Historically, St Dunstan-in-the-East is a reminder of the frightful London Blitz carried out by the German’s during World War II. Ironically, the church survived the devastating Great Fire of London in 1666 but succumbed to an air raid in 1941. A bomb directly hit the small church destroying the structure except for the north and south walls as well as the steeple designed by London’s famed architect, Sir Christopher Wren.
Today, St Dunstan in the East is a re-purposed ruin. Instead of the site being razed, the church remained in ruins until 1967 when the City of London Corporation voted to turn the bombed-out remains of the church into a public garden.
St Dunstan in the East is tucked away on a side street between the Monument to the Great Fire of London and the Tower of London. I found the church garden simply by exploring the streets one day ten years ago. The notion that such a serene place could exist amongst cold contemporary office buildings fascinated me. It’s entirely unexpected.
St Dunstan in the East is like a little oasis in the City of London. When I shared with my friends what I had found hidden away off Lower Thames Street, no one knew what I was talking about. At the time, I referred to the church ruin garden as a secret place in London. In typical fashion, many bloggers today place St Dunstan in the East as number one on their lists of secret places in London you must discover.
I like to refer to St Dunstan as a London garden retreat instead of a secret. The gardens consist of overgrown trees, ivy clinging to the walls and flowering vines creeping along the ruined arches. Benches are dotted around the former interior of the church for visitors to enjoy a moment of quiet or to have a spot of lunch. At high noon you’ll find numerous office workers from the area enjoying their lunch or simply taking a break. I visit with my camera even today as the garden is still endearing.
What strikes me most about the space is the calmness and serenity felt in the garden. The usual city noise seems to disappear once you step into the confines of the old church. There might be a bit of magic at St Dunstan in the East. I’ve noticed on more than one occasion how hectic London sounds disappear despite the structure being open air.
Life does indeed go on after tumultuous times like the Blitz. And, whether St Dunstan in the East is a secret or not, it should be atop your list when you explore London.
Where is St Dunstan In The East?
GPS Coordinates of St Dunstan In The East :: 51.5096° N, 0.0825° W
Map Showing the Location of St Dunstan In The East