Stunning hidden London backyard with ruins and vines that has a tragic historical past


It can be difficult to find a piece of green in London that isn’t crowded with other people.

You could spend hours wandering around looking for a spot to call your own for the afternoon and enjoying uninterrupted bliss.

So forget about Hyde Park, Primrose Hill and the rest and go on a little adventure to find the gardens, which lie in the ruins of a city church.

READ MORE: Beautiful village 72 minutes from London with the most beautiful greenery you will ever see

Enjoy a moment of calm in the chaos of the city

St. Dunstan’s Church was originally built around 1100, a south aisle was added in 1391 and the entire building was repaired in 1631.

The Gothic architecture contrasts sharply with the modern buildings that surround it.

But let’s turn the clock back a little.

The church was named after St. Dunstan, a 10th century Benedictine friar and later Archbishop of Canterbury who had an interesting past.

Keep an eye out for tropical palm trees in the ruins

He is said to have survived the temptations of the devil, black magic and leprosy – an eventful and – one could say – unhappy life that made him famous.

Unfortunately, the church that inherited his name seems to have inherited his bad luck too. It was badly damaged in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and had to be rebuilt – although this meant parishioners benefited from the architectural genius of a Sir Christopher Wren who added a new tower.

St. Dunstan’s managed to survive three centuries in a catastrophe – but then lightning came. In 1941 the church was practically wiped out, only the tower, the church tower and the north and south walls remained.

The Church of England decided not to rebuild at the end of World War II. Instead, the City of London decided to turn the ruins into a public garden, which opened in 1970.

The Church has struggled through destruction several times over the centuries

Now that you know the story, it’s time to see the ruins for yourself.

If you’re a regular visitor to town and just want to get away for a while, stop for lunch to sit among the vines that entwine around the church.

Relax in your own secret garden away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Each season of the year there is a different setting as the church shines in the summer, but the colder months can make the ruins appear from another world.

Perfect for a weekend stroll or midweek lunch, St. Dunstan’s is a reminder of years gone by – just waiting to be discovered.

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How to get there

Location: St. Dunstan’s Hill, London, EC3R 5DD

The closest underground stations to St. Dunstan’s are Tower Hill and Monument, served by the Circle and District lines.

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