ALTON PANCRAS

St. Pancras

The church is tucked away from the road at the end of a short drive it shares with a manor  and farmhouse.  There has been a church on this site since Norman times, although little is known about it other than the fact that the building had reached such a dilapidated state that by 1870 it was said to be "nodding to its fall".  It was entirely rebuilt with the chancel designed by Euan Christian (1874) and the nave by G. R. Crickmay (1875), leaving only the 15c tower standing with its four very ancient bells.

The floor tiles are by Poole Pottery and the 15c font is decorated with quatrefoils enclosing carvings.  The most important artefact is a medieval cresset stone.  This provided a primitive form of artificial light, because each of the hollows would have been filled with oil with a lighted wick.  Part of the organ once belonged to a fairground instrument and would have produced rather different music!

The dedication is uncommon, although the name is associated with the well known London railway station.  The Rev. R.A.Eden a 19c vicar of old St Pancras Church, London wrote this:
"It is recorded that St. Pancras was a young Roman noble, born in Phrygia, who lost both his father and mother when he was only ten years old.  His uncle, Dionysius, to whose care his father had entrusted him on his deathbed, took him to Rome to be educated.  Here both uncle and nephew were converted to the Christian faith by Marcellinus, the Bishop of the city.  In A.D. 304 when St. Pancras was only fourteen his uncle died; and before he was buried the boy, whose conversion to Christianity had become known to the Emperor Diocletian, was summoned to the palace and charged to abjure his faith, the alternative being that he would be thrown to the wild beasts.  "That may be," was the young martyr's reply to the threat, "but I dare not deny my Saviour and I dare not worship idols.  God will give me strength to die for Him, as others have done."  Upon this the enraged Emperor commanded the soldiers to take him forth at once to the Aurelian Way and dispatch him with their swords.  The command was obeyed, and the brave and faithful boy won his imperishable crown".  In view of his youth he became the patron saint of children for centuries, however in time his popularity waned and he was superseded by Saint Nicholas.