Explore London’s best-hidden gem, St Dunstan in the East.
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” Roald Dahl
LONDON’S BEST-HIDDEN GEM
Believe it or not, the most amazing enchanted garden surrounded by the ruins of a medieval church is hidden right in the middle of the City of London!
I have lived in London for over 10 years and only just discovered this fascinating place where a strange peace suddenly descends upon the City.
So allow me to take you on a journey to discover London’s best-kept secret – St Dunstan in the East!
The church was named after a rather curious character with a colorful past – a tenth-century monk who went on to become the Archbishop of Canterbury.
St Dunstan in the East was a Church of England parish church on St Dunstan’s Hill, halfway between London Bridge and the Tower of London.
In 1967 the City of London decided to turn the remains into a public garden, which opened in 1971.
Designed by the City of London Architects and Parks Departments, it won a Landscape Heritage Award in 1976.
It’s one of the last Blitz-damaged buildings left in the United Kingdom and a testament to the resilience of the City of London which survived it.
ST DUNSTAN IN THE EAST TODAY
Today the gardens and the church ruins are a Grade 1 listed building which means they cannot be destroyed and they are protected from any further development.
Hidden away on a secluded side street, and surrounded by the modern steel and chrome structures of the city, this an oddly serene place remains one of London’s secret gardens.
Overgrown with trees, ivy, and wall climbing flowers growing amongst the ruined arches, this hidden gem has a magical, fairy tale feel to it.
Because it’s surrounded by modern London architecture, it feels like you are stepping into a different dimension, very picturesque and frozen in time.
HOW TO GET THERE AND WHEN TO VISIT
The nearest underground stations are Monument and Tower Hill.
Green and vibrant in spring and summer or moody and nostalgic in fall and winter, St Dunstan in the East looks beautiful at all times of the year.
I would usually recommend visiting any attraction during the week rather than on a weekend but not in this case. It’s best to visit St Dunstan in the East at weekends when it gets more quiet and eerie.
During the weekdays the gardens are a popular lunchtime retreat for City workers who want to escape the hustle and bustle of London.
This little oasis of calm near the heart of the city is not only one of London’s most fascinating historical and sightseeing spots but also a great place to have lunch, relax and read a book. Because who wouldn’t want to spend their lunch break on a bench by the fountain in a magical fairy tale world?
The magical setting of St Dunstan In The East is also a truly romantic location, making it perfect for a wedding photography session.
A word of warning: if you are into photography or on a search for Insta-worthy locations, this place will blow your socks off and you will not want to leave!
Are you a Harry Potter fan? Check out my visit to the real-life Godric’s Hollow!