Fall of the Hardy Tree

In the 1860s, Thomas Hardy was a young architect employed to oversee the removal of graves from St Pancras Old Church in the London Borough of Camden. This project was undertaken to make room for the tracks of the Midland Railway. The future author of Far from the Madding Crowd stacked several dozens of tombstones around the base of a young ash tree which subsequently grew up around them, partially absorbing some into its root system.

Today, the Camden New Journal reports that the historic Hardy Tree has fallen:

Camden Council had warned in the summer that the tree had been weakened by a heavy storm and would almost certainly fall at some stage. It had been fenced off for some time.

In a statement in July, a Town Hall spokesperson said: “We are looking at ways to commemorate this tree, and its story, when it does eventually fall. The council recognises the importance of the veteran Hardy Tree, both for our local communities and nationally, which is why we’ve taken measures over the last eight years to manage this stage of its lifecycle, keeping it safe for visitors.”

I imagine that any commemoration of the tree must necessarily include the preservation of the headstones in situ. Photographer Simon Lamrock has posted images of the aftermath on Twitter.


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