|St James's Gardens||Camden|
Following an Act of Parliament, the site was originally purchased in 1788 as an additional burial ground for St James Piccadilly. Encroached upon by the railway to the east, it was laid out as a public garden by the St Pancras Vestry in 1887, and the headstones mostly cleared to the boundaries. St James's Gardens were re-landscaped in the 1980s by Camden Council, and is a rectangular site with grass, rose beds and a few mature trees, a playground area and an extensive semi-circular pergola.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/07/2002
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St James's Gardens, July 2002, Photo: S Williams
Click photo to enlarge.
Following an Act of Parliament this land was originally purchased and laid out in 1788 as an additional burial ground for St James Piccadilly (q.v.), the parish building behind it a new chapel of St James's. The chapel, built to designs of Thomas Hardwick, was consecrated in 1793 but has since been demolished. At one time the burial ground was 4 acres, and it is estimated that 50,000 burials took place here before it was closed. The Vestry of St Pancras bought the land from St James Church in 1887 for £3,600, with faculties and Acts. Reduced to 3 acres due to encroachment by the railway to the east, it was laid out as a garden by the vestry of St Pancras in 1887 at a cost of £1,600 paid for by the LCC, and the headstones mostly cleared to the boundaries. A plaque at the entrance records the opening as a public garden, which was maintained by St Pancras Borough Council. There were various features including a cast iron drinking fountain c.1886-7 that closely resembles a pattern illustrated in the Macfarlane's catalogue of c.1880.
There are a number of monuments, but many are neglected and decayed. A stone obelisk, although the upper part is broken, is thought to commemorate Charles Fitzroy, first Baron Southampton (d.1797), and his wife Anne (1810), with relief of 2 birds flanking a shield, above which is a coronet. This may be the work of John Bacon Jnr, whose Way tomb of 1804 at Acton it resembles. The Southampton family owned land in the south-west part of the present borough of Camden. The mid C19th Christie monument is also in the gardens, commemorating the founder of the auction house, James Christie, d.1803, and several of his family, in the form of a grey granite cross with inscriptions on each side of the plinth and with 4 cross-bars with semicircular arms. Another tombstone that remains in the gardens commemorates John Leverton who established his funeral undertakers' firm in 1789, making coffins in premises off Hampstead Road. It was the firm of Leverton's that conducted Diana, Princess of Wales's funeral in 1997.
The garden was re-landscaped in the 1980s by Camden Council, and is a rectangular site, with grass, rose beds and a few mature trees, a playground area and an extensive semi-circular pergola.
Survey of London; Walter Edwin Brown, 'Saint Pancras Open Spaces and Disused burial grounds' (1902); M W Hammond, 'Camden's Parks and Gardens', LB Camden (1973); LB Camden Listed Buildings website; John Richardson, 'A History of Camden. Hampstead, Holborn, St Pancras' (Historical Publications Ltd, 1999); Walter Edwin Brown, 'Saint Pancras Open Spaces and Disused Burial Grounds' ( 1902)