It was beginning to rain as I was walking down Euston Road and I was forced to take shelter under the portico of a church on the corner of Upper Woburn Place; the very northern edge of Bloomsbury. The church was the St Pancras Parish Church.
I’ve passed this church many times without giving it the time of day but with five minutes to spare and nothing better to do I spent the time looking, at the details of the building which proved to be a worthwhile exercise.
It was built just after the defeat of France in the Napoleonic Wars between 1819-22. George III was coming to the end of his 60 reign. London was booming and the number of people living in the city was exploding; the church was built to accommodate the fast growing population of what had until then been the sleepy semi-rural parish of St Pancras. It was a well to do congregation and the building was a very expensive enterprise, becoming the second most costly church (after St Paul’s Cathedral) at that point.
Designed by a local father and son team, the Inwoods, it was based on buildings in Greece – then all the rage; Byron would move there in 1823 – and made out of brick, faced with Portland stone except for the tower and portico which are solid stone. All the detail work is in terracotta.
Its an old church and the traffic of Euston Road stains the stone and terracotta black in places but it’s a rather lovely building that in other cities this would be venerated. Five minute well spent.