The Caryatids of St Pancras Parish Church


Where: St Pancras Parish Church, Euston Road, NW1

Euston and Kings Cross St. Pancras are two of the busiest train stations in London, and Euston Road – the thoroughfare conjoining the two – is no less manic. Amidst such mayhem it is easy to miss a real treat: the terracotta women holding up the vestries on either side of William and Henry Inwood’s Greek Revival church. Opened in 1822, the building cost £76,679, making it the most expensive religious construction since that of St. Pauls’s Cathedral.

The caryatids (a new word for iPad scrabble!) were inspired by those on the “Porch of Maidens” at the Erechtheion Temple on the north side of the Acropolis in Athens. Sculpted by John Charles Felix Rossi, they have cast-iron innards which are slowly causing their terracotta skin to bulge, crack and fall off. A restoration project is under way to preserve these sentries of the Euston Road, who each hold an extinguished flame or empty jug to mark their position above a vault used for burials.

It seems, though, that their installation didn’t exactly go smoothly either; the caryatids were initially too large for their intended home and so, in an act of sculptor’s surgery, they had a slice of their abdomen’s removed so they would fit!

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