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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of North London

by Peter Kessler, 24 July 2011

Camden Part 4: Churches of St Pancras & Bloomsbury

St Pancras Old Church

St Pancras Old Church stands on the eastern side of Pancras Road, with St Pancras Station bordering it on the far side. This may be one of the oldest Christian sites in the country. Although there is little evidence, the original church is believed to have existed since about AD 313. It was dedicated to the Roman martyr, Saint Pancras, killed about AD 304. Built immediately to the west of the River Fleet, which often flooded the area, it had a Saxon altar dating to AD 600.


The chancel was probably rebuilt in 1350, when the medieval parish stretched almost as far as Oxford Street and Highgate. Later that century the area was abandoned in favour of Kentish Town. The church fell into disrepair. St Pancras New Church was built in 1822 (below) and the old church became a chapel of ease. Now derelict, in 1847-1848 it was heavily restored by Gough and Roumieu for St Pancras' new urban population. Only traces of Norman masonry survived.

Christ Church Chalton Street

Christ Church Chalton Street stood on the eastern side of Chalton Street, about sixty metres (yards) south of Phoenix Road in Somers Town, to the immediate west of St Pancras Church. It was built in 1868 to fill the void left by the loss of St Luke Euston Road. The church was in the Gothic style with iron columns, designed by Newman & Billing. It was destroyed by bombing during the war. The north wall, chancel walls and part of the tower stood until the early 1950s.

St Mary the Virgin Somers Town

St Mary the Virgin Somers Town is at the south-east corner of Eversholt Street (formerly Seymour Street and Upper Seymour Street) and Aldenham Street in St Pancras. This was a Commissioners church, designed by Henry W & William Inwood in what was known as 'Carpenter's Gothic'. It was built in 1822-1824, although some sources show 1824-1827, and even 1852. The chancel was added by Ewan Christian in 1878, while in 1888 the galleries were removed.

St Aloysius Catholic Church

St Aloysius Catholic Church occupies the south-east corner of Eversholt Street and Phoenix Road in Somers Town. The area was heavily occupied by refugees from the French Revolution, who sought cheap accommodation and a Catholic church. The original church was built by the Abbé Carron in 1808, as a successor to a chapel in nearby Chalton Street which had been founded in 1798. The present church building was erected in 1968 and consecrated on 24 May 1992.

St Pancras New Church

St Pancras New Church is at the south-east corner of Euston Road and Upper Woburn Place at the northern edge of Bloomsbury. The original St Pancras Church (above) was replaced by this one as the parish church. It was designed by Henry W & William Inwood in a Greek revival style and was the most expensive of its time. The building was consecrated in 1822. It served the newly-built areas around the Euston Road and parts of the well-off Bloomsbury area.

St Pancras New Church

The crypt houses nearly five hundred burials and was closed in 1854. It served as an air raid shelter during both world wars. In the second it sustained some damage and was closed to deal with dry rot and structural failings in 1951-1952. The apse has a ring of six Ionic columns. The gallery extends around the rest of the church and is supported at the west end by a further six Ionic columns. The stained glass is by Clayton & Bell. The North Chapel was added in 1970.

Friends House Central Office (Quakers)

Friends House Central Office (Quakers) fills a large plot at the south-eastern corner of Euston Road and Gordon Street, opposite Euston Station. The building serves as the headquarters of the Society of Friends, and was constructed in 1927 to designs by Irish architect Hubert Lidbetter. It has a long neo-Classical frontage on Euston Road, with a massive central Doric colonnade (shown here) which originally reflected the grand proportions of Euston Station's Victorian arch.

All Saints Gordon Square

All Saints Gordon Square was formerly located on the western side of Gordon Street, approximately thirty metres north of Gordon Square in the Bloomsbury district. The church was opened in 1843, but by 1909 it was closed, its parish united with that of St Pancras (see above). Probably demolished in 1909, a tablet was taken from the church and placed in St Pancras Church. It read; 'The Revd. Henry Hughes MA 1852, "the founder and first minister of this Church"'.

Christ the King Catholic Apostolic Church

Christ the King Catholic Apostolic Church stands at the north-west corner of Byng Place and Gordon Square, overlooking the southern end of the square itself. The vast church is the focal point for the movement called the 'Catholic Apostolic Church', a Victorian movement founded in 1833 by Edward Irving (1792-1834). The church was designed by J Raphael Brandon and stands as a fine example of the Gothic Revival style, although it was never completed.

All photos on this page by P L Kessler.

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