As part of our “mini-moon” stay in London at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel (a very generous wedding gift from my family!), James and I went to Camden (one of our favourite places in London) and dropped into St Pancras Old Church.
One of the oldest churches in England, St Pancras Old Church is tiny and has some very pleasant grounds indeed – it’s quiet and green and has quite a few famous monuments, including the “Hardy Tree” pictured above. It’s also associated with John Polidori, Mary Shelley and PB Shelley, which very much appeals to my interest in the Gothic. The church itself is very nice inside as well – small and simple, it reminded me of Dode Church where we got married (except that it’s modernised and still used for Christian worship).
As I mentioned in a recent post, I still love visiting churches and churchyards, and becoming a Pagan has not changed this. If anything, I appreciate them even more because I can see so much in churches that you’ll also find in Pagan worship. St Pancras Old Church had water for blessing, incense burning, candles for visitors to offer and, right above the altar, a large golden sun motif – very Pagan indeed! Visiting churches simply reminds me of what the two religions have in common, particularly when practised at the small-scale local level (what I would term “folk” religion).
When exploring the church (unlike many functioning churches the altar is not roped off and visitors can walk all the way round), I discovered a little alcove right at the back with a single lit candle and a statue of a holy figure (I’m not sure who – I don’t think it was Saint Pancras himself because that saint was supposed to be only 14 when he was martyred and the statue was of an old man). This reminded me of the “miniature shrine” culture I’ve been looking into recently within Paganism, such as hokora in Shintoism. Again, an example of how there are so many overlapping traditions across different religions.
Since I mentioned Gothic, I thought I’d also share a photo taken from inside the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel itself. With it’s amazing, opulent Gothic revival architecture, I think it’s quite clear why I had dreamed of staying here for years!