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The City of London is packed with towering skyscrapers & busy streets. However, despite the bedlam, there are still some quiet spots in the area. One of the best hidden spots in London is St. Dunstan in the East Church Garden, a tranquil park with almost 1,000 years of history.
The history of St. Dunstan in the East Church
St. Dunstan, who the church was named after, was a popular former Archbishop of Canterbury. The first incarnation of St. Dunstan in the East was constructed around 1100. It was expanded & remodeled over the course of the subsequent centuries. In 1666, the church was severely damaged in the Great Fire of London.
Rather than being rebuilt, it was just repaired a few years later. However, a steeple & tower designed by legendary architect Sir Christopher Wren were constructed between 1695 & 1701.
In the 1800s, it was determined that much of St. Dunstan in the East needed to be rebuilt. Wren’s tower was kept with this rebuild.
St. Dunstan in the East would once again be destroyed in 1941. The London Blitz saw bombs fall all over the city. All that remained of St. Dunstan in the East was the tower & steeple, along with the north and south walls.
Rather than rebuild the church yet again, it was determined in 1967 that the ruins should be turned into a public garden. The garden opened in 1971. There aren’t many spots left in London where you can see the remnants of the Blitz, as most areas were redeveloped. Not only is St. Dunstan in the East Church Garden now a place of quiet for Londoners, but it’s also a memorial to those lost in the Blitz.
Getting to St. Dunstan in the East Church Garden
St. Dunstan in the East Church Garden is located between Monument & Tower Hill stations, just off St. Dunstan’s Hill between Great Tower Street & Lower Thames Street. It’s also near several hop-on, hop-off bus routes. The garden is quietest early in the day.
St. Dunstan in the East Church Garden Today
Today, St. Dunstan in the East Church Garden is a beautiful example of how greenery can be incorporated into a city. The ruins are draped with ivy and other vines, showing how nature just might reclaim the world someday.
In the springtime, there are tons of flowers, including cherry trees.
The park has lots of benches for sitting and enjoying the quiet. It’s a popular place for London office workers to sit and eat lunch on nice days. Even on the hottest days, the garden remains cooler & partially shaded.
It used to be that weekends would be the quietest time to visit St. Dunstan in the East Church Garden, but nowadays it’s one of the most popular Instagram spots in central London. Get there early if you can, and please be respectful of everyone else around you who is also there to enjoy the garden & ruins. Permits are required for larger-scale photo & video shoots.
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