There have been a number of Badhams associated with the parish of St. Pancras, Middlesex, including some who were married or baptised in the building shown in this print which was, however, rebuilt in 1848. Although usually known as Old St. Pancras, this church was to be officially called the Parish Chapel following the building of the new St. Pancras on Euston Road, which was consecrated on 7 May 1822. Ancestry.com entries in the London Metropolitan Archives collection do show which registers are from the Parish Chapel, although the register entry only says St. Pancras Church, parish of St. Pancras. The consecration of the new church meant that there were two churches dedicated to St. Pancras in the same parish. Given that by 1811 there were already 46,333 inhabitants in 5,826 houses in the parish,1 there is potential confusion for many family historians. We can identify at least two marriages "belonging" to Society members which took place in the illustrated church. George Badham married Ursula Wiseman in 1818, only nine years before the engraving and, just squeezed in before the church was rebuilt in 1848, Thomas Newton Badham married Ester Dixon in 1847. By the time the latter were having my great grandfather baptised it would have been in the new building now standing.
I found this print many years ago and noted back then that there were a number of finer details of interest. When filing a new addition to my small collection I looked again and decided Members might enjoy a look at the stories within the picture.
The fun bit of this is the coach behind the railings which, given the whip is in use, is probably late! It is also evident that there is still open space towards the west across to what is probably the Hampstead Road. The view is across Pond Field, as it was then called, now filled in with Somers Town and Euston Station, neither of which were built at this date. I first thought the dome-shaped construction showing above the roofs could be a reservoir built on an artificial mound, which used to stand at the top of Tottenham Court Road, but it matches the shape of the ephemeral Colosseum in the developing Regent’s Park. The church tower looks like that of Holy Trinity, Brompton but this was not consecrated until 6 June 1829 and is too far away to be able to see this much of it. Trinity Church at the south end of Albany Street is a topographical possibility but in its present form doesn’t look at all like this one. Similarly, St Mary Magdalene is a good candidate from its position but wasn’t built until about 1852. It does occur to me that our engraver, working back to front, so to speak, may have ‘translated’ St Katherine’s church and hospital from north to south. Since I wrote the first version of this article the LTS has published Two Early Panoramas of The Regent’s Park2 and a look at the Mortimer rendering of St Katherine’s bears some similarity to George Cooke’s rendering, but other ideas are welcome.
I love this depiction of the gravediggers and hangers-on. Note the odd bone or two lying about and our ladder-climbing labourer seems to be in a bit of a twist, unless we blame the engraver. Is the little girl bored and playing with her hair? She looks about five, so could be the artist’s daughter, Georgiana, born in January 1822 who also seems to have been burdened with her mother’s maiden name of Eglington. Either the hat in the left foreground is hers or there seems to be one hat too many. Perhaps someone has left the scene to get beer to go with the lunch in the basket lying under the hat? Possibly the imagined lunch was George’s together with the hat? I suppose Good Bye is as pithy a memorial inscription as any but probably owes more to the artist than an accurate recording of what was there.
I suppose churchyards have been havens of play for centuries but these two are doing more than playing with a kite. The amiable cartoon face is clearly aimed at G C, our engraver George Cooke, and perhaps the kite decorator is his son Edward born in 1811. He was a talented illustrator,3 beginning his career aged nine, so by 1827 would be 16 and well established in his artistic career.
So, our thanks to George who, probably a Methodist, still felt able to give expression to his sense of humour in an Anglican graveyard scene. He entertains us nearly 200 years later through an engraving method that means drawing everything backwards as in a:
© Peter Badham and Badham One Name Society, December 2014.-January 2017
1. St Pancras Church and Parish, Charles E Lee, St Pancras Church Council, 1955, page 37.
2. Two Early Panoramas of The Regent’s Park, The Panoramas of Richard Morris and John Mortimer,
Geoffrey Tyack, London Topographical Society, No. 177, 2015.
3. Dictionary of Victorian Wood Engravers, Rodney K Engen, Chadwyck-Healey, 1985.