The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 18 Bloomsbury and Districts to the North

King's Cross

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At KING'S CROSS, a busy centre of traffic, there are stations of the Metropolitan, the South London Tube, and the Piccadilly Tube, all connected with one another by subways. Originally known as Battle Bridge, from a supposed connection with a battle in which Boadicea, the British warrior-queen, took part, its name was changed to King's Cross in 1830, when a monument (now utterly vanished) to George IV. and William IV. was erected here. Numerous more or less important thoroughfares diverge hence. In Pancras Road, which leads north-west to Camden Town, is (+ mile) Old St. Pancras Church, of very ancient foundation but practically rebuilt in 1848. The cemetery, long the chief burial-place in London of Roman Catholics and emigres, is now a public garden, with a monument commemorating those whose graves were disturbedied William Godwin (died 1836) and his first wife, Mary Wollstonecraft (died 1797), were married in the old church and were both buried in this ground, but in 1851 their remains were removed to Bournemouth. Mary Godwin is said to have first met Shelley beside her mother's grave here (in 1813). General Paoli was buried here in 1807, but in 1889 his body was taken to Corsica. A red granite tombstone, on the south side of the church, was erected by Cecil Rhodes in 1890, whose ancestors were farmers in this district. Jeremy Collier (1650-1726) was buried here; and on the north side is the tomb of Sir John Soane. In Caledonian Road, 1 mile from King's Cross, is Pentonville Prison, built in 1840 and accommodating 1000 male convicts. Within this prison Roger Casement was hanged for high treason on August 3rd 1916, the first person hanged in England for this offence since the execution of the Cato Street Conspirators in 1820. On the opposite side of the road and extending west to York Road is the Metropolitan Cattle Market, or Caledonian Market, transferred hither from Smithfield in 1855, and occupying with its buildings an area of 50 acres, in what was formerly Copenhagen Fields. Markets for the sale of cattle and sheep are held on Monday and Thursday, Monday being the principal day. On Friday, from 10 till 4 a 'pedlars' market' or rag-fair is held here, when all kinds of second-hand wares are offered for sale, attracting 'bargainhunters' of every rank of society. About 1300 stallholders attend this market weekly and many thousands of customers. The similar fair on Tuesday is less frequented.