The Tomb and the Telephone Box: Soane’s Mausoleum (1816).
Bird’s-eye view of the Soane Family Tomb (1816), painted by George Basevi, a pupil of Sir John Soane.
Painted in the year of its erection, Basevi has here removed the tomb from its graveyard setting and imagined it nestled in a tree-laden valley .
When London’s King’s Cross train station expanded north in the mid-1860s, the tracks cut through one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in the city: St Pancras Old Church.
The novelist Thomas Hardy, at that point working as an architect, was charged with the task of clearing the site to make space for the station’s expansion north.
Hardy exhumed the dead and placed their gravestones in a spiral around a tree.
Today this tree remains, but the inscriptions are increasingly difficult to read, given the tree’s roots have begun to envelope the stones.
Elsewhere in the cemetery, the gravestones mark the final resting places of other notable figures: there is Mary Wollstonecraft, writer of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) the mother of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein (1818).
Nearby is an imposing mausoleum inscribed with the name Sir John Soane, marking the final resting place of the collector-architect, whose eccentric house remains on Lincoln’s Inn Fields, as documented in the guide
Description of the House and Museum of Sir John Soane (1835).