Hatchards, London’s oldest bookshop, has provided the annual crafted Christmas tree for St. Pancras International Station, in the style of a ziggurat tower of books.
Standing at 12 metres tall it features a winding staircase, wrapping around 270 shelves with more than 3,800 books, but also around the base, nooks to sit in and rest, or if you prefer, listen to books being read out loud through some speakers in the cubby holes.
The station’s Christmas tree is always themed, and this year’s is one of the better ones. I quite like it – it reminds me of old bookshops the way you want them to look, all nooks and winding staircases and shelves full of leather-bound covers.
The books are worth a look as well, as some have handwritten titles on the sides – although I ended up using my camera as a handheld telescope to zoom in to read them.
The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hogfather, Christmas with the Tylers, Mog’s Christmas, The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, and The Polar Express are all suitable Christmas themed books. Locally relevant was Sam Lane’s St Pancras thru the lens, but naughty… someone snuck in a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey.
And do look inside the cubby holes, if the person sitting in them doesn’t mind you peering over their head, for some history posters from the railways and the bookseller. I must admit, it would have been marvellous to be able to walk up the stairs that wind around the “tree”, but I suspect the cost of making it suitable for climbing would have been prohibitive.
Some previous trees in the station have felt a bit overly commercial or trying too hard to be worthy — this one, just like Mary Poppins, is practically perfect in every way.
However, it could have waited a couple of weeks before going up. It’s just too early for Christmas trees.
St Pancras Christmas Trees Past
2022 – The Princes Trust
2021 – London Zoo
2020 – EL&N London
2019 – Lancôme
2018 – Tiffany
2017 – Moyses Stevens
2016 – Cirque du Soleil
2015 – Disney Junior
2014 – Eurostar
2013 – Fortnum & Mason
2012 – Olympics theme
2011 – LEGO
2010 – Lanson Champagne