Before he became famous as a novelist and poet. Thomas Hardy trained as an architect. In 186s he joined the firm of Covent Garden based architect Arthur Blomfield.
At this time the development of London was pushing ahead fast with new housing and railways. At this time that an older part of St Pancras Churchyard was designated for redevelopment in order to make way for a new railway line. The Bishop of London gave the contract for this work to Blomfield who passed responsibility on to his student, Hardy.
Hardy oversaw the removal and reburial of the bodies, and a number of the headstones were placed in a circular pattern around an ash tree. The stones and tree have never needed to be moved since and now the ash tree is slowly consuming the stones into its trunk.