For a long time now I’ve been fascinated with the idea of urban exploration.
The concept of venturing in to crumbling ruins – camera in hand – is an incredibly adventurous notion, that really fires the imagination!
The only problem is that a) such exploration is typically illegal, and b) if anyone’s clumsy enough to die exploring a decaying building, it’s probably me. And I’m scared of ghosts too.
So from the combination of necessary lawfulness, and the fear of being crushed by falling rubble/pursued by ghostly occupants, becoming an urban explorer isn’t really for me. But what does remain is the option of ruined or abandoned places that are open to the public. I was therefore incredibly curious to check out a rather famous set of ruins in London; the remains of St Dunstan-in-the-East.
Located in Tower Hill – and a 15 minute walk from the Tower of London – St Dunstan-in-the-East is a surprising sight amidst the sleek, high-rise office blocks and chaotic main road it overlooks.
This ancient church has existed since around 1100. It was repeatedly extended and repaired over the following centuries, before succumbing to bombing in 1941 – one of many buildings to fall at the hands of the blitz.
But following the end of WW2, the decision was made not to rebuild the church. But instead of demolishing the bombed out ruins, they did something rather surprising – and beautiful – instead.
They turned it in to a public park.
Decades on, this incredibly beautiful little space is the winner of an architectural award, and remains one of London’s favourite secret spaces!
A strange mix of haunting, blackened ruins and gorgeous greenery, St-Dunstan in the East is a peaceful haven amongst the hustle and bustle of inner-city London.
Admittedly I was in a bit of a hurry at the time of my visit, and also hit the lunchtime rush, meaning that I didn’t get quite as many pictures as I would have liked!
I’d really love to return another day however, maybe with a coffee from the nearby Starbucks, to just sit and bask in the unique aura of calm the park has to offer.
St-Dunstan-in-the-East is totally free to the public, and the park is open all days of the week. It’s a wonderful and truly unique little spot in London, and I really do recommend paying it a visit if you get the chance to do so!
What are your favourite secret spots in London? Do let me know in the comments below!
Otherwise happy travels, and I look forward to seeing you again in the next post!
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