The Hardy Tree: London’s Macabre Gravestone Tree

Prior to being recognized as a legendary author, Thomas Hardy worked for a London architectural firm. In the 1860s, London was experiencing explosive growth which resulted in an expansion of the city’s rail system. One proposed rail expansion intersected with a notable London graveyard in the shadow of St. Pancras Old Church. The firm that Hardy worked for was tasked with coming up with a creative solution for the redistribution of the graveyard’s deceased residents and the headstones that marked their graves. Thomas Hardy chose to arrange the uprooted headstones in a macabre circle at the base of a tree. Nobody knows why Hardy arranged the discarded gravestones in a circle, because he kept no record of his thoughts on the project. Over time, many of the tightly packed gravestones have been overtaken by weeds. Surely writer Thomas Hardy would comment that weeds growing among the gravestones demonstrates the relentless march of time.

Hardy Tree

St Pancras Old Church, London, England, UK

St Pancras Old Church, London, England, UK

Hardy Tree

Photo by Feldore McHugh

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