Friday, May 16, 2014

St Pancras Old Church and strawberry-lime pear cider

I meant to write this post last night, but I was so tired yesterday that I ended up going to bed at only 9:00 (or, I suppose I should use British nomenclature: 21:00)!  It was a great decision, because I was up just after 7 this morning, and instead of feeling exhausted, as I did yesterday, I'm excited to head out to the library this morning.

Yesterday was a fantastic day - we worked, we did something touristy, and we drank!  We took a long lunch break, and the first thing we noticed is that if you turn around in the BL courtyard, you get this amazing view of the St Pancras train station:

Then we headed up the street to visit the St Pancras Old Church.  They think parts of it date all the way back to the 4th century, and the church itself was built in the 11th or 12th century.

Inside, the church is steeped in incense - they celebrate a High Anglo-Catholic Mass every Sunday (which I hope to attend while we're here).  It's a small sanctuary, and very clean - not just in the sense of "washed," but in the sense of "clean lines."  There's a very small transept with a shrine to St Pancras, but otherwise just this beautiful space:

There's a real sense of age to this place, though I can't quite put my finger on why.  Perhaps it's the way in which the church has settled - there are some cracks in the walls, which unfortunately stem from the very real danger the church is in.  Ancient drains underneath the church are making the building sink, and they're trying to raise money for very necessary repairs.  Perhaps the sense of age also comes from the ornamentation, which is very pretty (I've never seen a triptych in a church before, only in art museums!) but also very clearly a later addition to this medieval space.

Outside, St Pancras Old Church has a famous churchyard which includes the grave of Mary Wollstonecraft.  But the locals use it as a park - we saw a man playing with his dog, several people eating lunch, and (my favorite), a man leaning up against a gravestone reading a book.  It was shady and quiet and completely gorgeous.

On most of the grave markers throughout the whole park, all the names had been worn away.
There was something kind of special about the universality of these memorials.

I thought the snail was perfect.

This Soane vault was the inspiration for the British phone booth!

In the afternoon, I got distracted from my work by a woman working two spaces down, who looked just like a musicologist friend from the States.  Turns out, she WAS my musicologist friend - small world!  So we all went out for a drink, across the street at the Euston Flyer.  Our first British pub experience was an unqualified success.  It was lovely to catch up with her, and husband and I both quite enjoyed our chips covered in cheese and bacon, and our drinks - he tried Fuller's Seafarer's, one of their ales on tap, and I had the most delicious, the most wonderful (here I'm channeling Gordon Ramsay) strawberry-lime pear cider.  It tasted like summer.  I'm so excited, because the pub had a whole cider menu, not just the one option you get if you're lucky at American pubs.  Apple and blackcurrant cider?  Wild berry cider?  A whole range of brands of plain apple cider?  Yes please!

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