St Dunstan in the East London

famous parks in London | St Dunstan in the East - Serenity amongst ruins

St Dunstan in the East-8 reasons why you should visit this Serenity amongst Ruins

My latest love of London is an old ruined medieval Gothic church in the heart of London’s financial district, just a stone’s throw away from Tower Hill Station. On a quiet side-street tucked away between Tower Hill and Monument is St Dunstan Hill where you will find one of London’s most beautiful garden, often referred as “London’s secret garden” – St Dunstan in the East.

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St Dunstan in the East, London

There are many reasons to visit this charming little gem where there exists serenity and tranquillity. However, I have listed 8 reasons why St Dunstan in the East should be on your list when visiting London.

Why you should visit St Dunstan in the East, London

The Garden at St Dunstan in the East today is an unusual garden. By “unusual” I mean quirky and charming. The ruins of this church is one of the last of the Blitz’s casualties remaining in the UK. More on its history, below. Let us have a look at the reasons why you should visit this garden.

1 | A quirky and charming garden to escape to

The first view of St Dunstan is that it is overgrown with trees, has wall shrubs, ivy and flowers growing amongst its ruins. However, the subtle beauty of this chapel came through as I walked around the ruins.

The Chapel’s defining characteristics of Gothic architecture was very present. The pointed arches before me were beautiful and the old stone with its cracks showed its age, still retaining its somewhat uniqueness. The large glass-less window frames had stood strong the test of time. One can only imagine how beautiful these stone tracery would have been before it’s destruction when these were ornamented with stained glass illustrating stories from the Bible and the lives of the Saints.

St Dunstan in the East - Serenity amongst ruins
St Dunstan in the East – Serenity amongst ruins
Fresh green foliage from the trees growing through the windows.
St Dunstan in the East: Fresh green foliage from the trees growing through the windows.

This visit was undertaken in the summer months and the summer setting was charming with fresh green foliage from the trees growing through windows. It was rather enchanting to have vines winding around the walls and wildflowers, popping here and there on the walls while palm trees added a tropical feel to St Dunstan in the East.

A gorgeously green spot in the summer sunshine. Along with this is also a fountain in the middle of what used to be the nave.

2 | Serenity amongst ruins

The fountain in the middle is surrounded by benches. There are many benches dotted around  the ruins to offer a place to sit and where you can enjoy the tranquillity of this garden. One could bring a book to read or a sketch book to capture the settings at St Dunstan in the East, or even have your lunch.

The centrepiece of St Dunstan in the East
Grab yourself a seat on one of these benches and read a book, sketch the surroundings, listen to music – pretty much do whatever you want in the serenity of St Dunstan in the East

The tranquillity here is ever so present as it almost seems like a strange peace had descended over the garden. I am sure this tranquillity continues to exist even when there are grey skies which so often dominate London, giving it a moody atmosphere.

3 | The rich history of St Dunstan in the East

According to records held by London’s Gardens & Parks Trust, there had been a church that stood here since ancient times. St Dunstan’s was built around circa 1100 and survived the Great Fire in 1666, sustaining severe damage. The damage was repaired and a tower plus a steeple was designed by Sir Christopher Wren which were added between 1695-1701. The church was rebuilt between 1817 and 1821. However, during London Blitz in 1941, when London was raining bombs, the small church took a direct hit that destroyed the structure, leaving only the north and south walls, the tower and steeple. In 1953, the spire was reconstructed and later, the tower in 1970.

4 | An officially designated historical site

The site remained in ruins until 1967 when the City of London acquired it and turned it into a garden for public use in 1971. The ruins have been designated Grade 1 Listed building. This means that it is protected from further development and destruction.

5 | How St Dunstan in the East inherited its name

The church, St Dunstan in the East took its name from a 10th century monk. Dunstan (908 – 988) was an English Bishop who later became the Archbishop of Canterbury. He is said to have a colourful past for he survived brushes with black magic, leprosy and the devil himself.

Read more about St Dunstan, here

6 | Designed by Sir Christopher Wren

Sir Christopher Wren is a highly acclaimed English architect in history who had designed about 50 churches in the City of London. The most prominent and regarded as his masterpiece is St Paul’s Cathedral which took 35 years to build. Other designs of Wren include Royal Hospital at Chelsea (1682-1689), Hampton Court Palace (1689-1696) for King William III and Queen Mary, and the Royal Naval Hospital at Greenwich (1696-1705).

Learn more about Wren’s masterpiece, St Paul’s Cathedral in What makes St Paul’s Cathedral in London a Special place to Visit?

Wren died in London on Feb. 25, 1723 and was buried in St. Paul’s. His tomb bears a simple inscription:

“Reader, if you seek his monument, look about you.”

7 | Popularity of St Dunstan in the East

A quick research on St Dunstan in the East showed that it could be hired as a venue for wedding reception and parties. It is also a popular spot for magazine photoshoot and not forgetting Instagram poses as well.

8 | A Testament

St Dunstan in the East is not only a popular spot for peace and tranquillity for Londoners to escape to but it also stands as a testament to the resilience of the City of London which survived the Blitz.

On a final note…

This hidden secluded garden is one of the most beautiful gardens in the City of London. As one of the last Blitz-damaged buildings left in the UK, it stands as a memorial to the horrors of the Blitz and a testament to the resilience of the City of London which survived it.

London inspires me to explore and write compelling thoughts of this beautiful city even if I had seen something tens-of-times. Somehow exploring London these days are a “discovery” anew of something old. May be because I am a Londoner, I am biased but as I travelled also to faraway places, I discover that there is no place quite like London. Not quite. Not anywhere.

How to find St Dunstan in the East

You can reach St Dunstan in the East at:

​St Dunstan’s Hill, London EC3R 5DD

or Via phone:

​020 7374 4127

or Email:

[email protected]


Ramped access via the Idol Lane entrance to the north side of the garden only.

Remainder of the garden accessed via steps.

Opening hours:

​​Open all year round from 8am to 7pm or dusk, whichever is earlier.

Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

Entrances via Idol Lane and St Dunstan’s Hill.

Walking route from Tower Hill Station to St Dunstan in the East.

You may also like the following articles on London’s Parks and Gardens:

1 | Hampstead Pergola & Hill Gardens

2 | 12 famous parks in London

3 | Regent’s Park and Gardens – #1 for total zen

4 | Kensington Palace Gardens – an idyllic getaway from chaos of the City

5 | Reasons why you would enjoy visiting the Sky Garden

Happy discovering London!

Georgina xx

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St Dunstan in the East-8 reasons why you should visit this Serenity amongst Ruins was first published at

This post is regularly edited and updated. Last updated August 29, 2022

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By Georgina

Georgina is a travel writer and a content creator. An escapist, she seeks stories, off-beat things to do, and adores the beauty of culture while embracing comfort and slow travel as a responsible traveller in the off-season. Georgina has lived in 3 continents, visited 30+ countries and strives to share her travel steps, passion, and experienced tips to inspire her readers to explore for themselves. Georgina enjoys venturing solo, takes pleasure in listening to classical, country & jazz, and delights in spending joyous time with A & M, her two adult children.


  1. Thank you so much for re-visiting this article and Glad to know that St Dunstan is on your list for November. It is a beautiful place and I think in November, you may witness some of the changing colours.

  2. Adrian Wyatt says:

    Just been reading this again because in November I am in London and this is on the list for some black and white photography. seeing the images gives me an idea what possible and also the travel detail really helps me to plan a packed itinerary

  3. Thank you Ann. There are so many buildings in London with so much history – you will feel right at home here 🙂

  4. What beautiful buildings, so old and with so much history. I just love getting lost in old stories I find about places like these 🙂

  5. Thank you so much, Jen. St Dunstan is so pretty even in winter when there are no foliage surrounding it. Absolutely a place to visit and experience.

  6. Jen Mostert says:

    Serenity amongst the ruins – how beautiful. Your words and photographs have given me a sense of serenity in my time of lockdown, thank you. I can’t wait to spend a couple of hours here next time that I am in London.

  7. Charming indeed! Absolutely beautiful in the spring/summer. Hoping to visit soon in winter. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, Jennifer. Appreciate it.

  8. Jennifer Morrow says:

    What a charming discovery! I can’t believe it is located near Tower Hill. I lived nearby in London and never knew these ruins were hidden under my nose. I will have to stop in on my next visit to London.

  9. Thank you so much for finding this article useful. St Dunstan in the East is certainly a little gem hidden away, one I hope you will get to visit next year when you are in London.

  10. Thank you Georgina for yet another fabulous post about London. The ruins of St Dunstan East London has such jaw dropping history. We are history lovers so this attracts us right up. Plus, we love gardens too. I’m so pleased the City of London acquired the ruins & opened it up as a beautiful public space. Plus it certainly is a memorial to the horrors of war and the resilience of the British. Well done bringing this beauty to our attention – I for one have never heard of St Dunstan

  11. I am super excited for you, Sharon. 2020 is not long to go! St Dunstan in the East is lovely. It makes a perfect addition to your itinerary if you are visiting Tower of London – both accessible from Tower Hill Station. Please let me know if I can help in any way.

  12. I always love exploring ruins! And this church was designed by Christopher Wren. I hope to go to London in 2020, and I would love to visit St. Dunstan!

  13. Thank you so much. You will find the steeple if you find St Dunstan in the East – located at the back of the Garden. Appreciate your positive feedback.

  14. This looks like a lovely place to find some peace and quiet. Id like to go there to find the steeple as it looked lovely with the trees.

  15. So glad that you know St Dunstan in the East and the area. It is indeed a lovely place to getaway to, even for lunch breaks. I love to click away and share my experiences – gives me great pleasure to do so. Thank you so much for your lovely, encouraging comments. I appreciate it very much.

  16. I love the area and it is nice to find a quiet place to stand by in a big city. You got fantastic photos and thanks for letting us know about this place. Very helpful and informative especially for first time visitors or people who may not know the area very well.

  17. It is tucked away in a little corner! great to combine it with a visit to the Tower of London/Tower Bridge. It is open late in the summer too so you can visit after a long day walking around the Tower etc. Definitely hoping you will visit next time. Thank you so much for sharing and for your lovely comments.

  18. Thank you so much. St Dunstan in the East is remarkably quiet and you will definitely enjoy your moments there.

  19. St Dunstan in the East is definitely worth a visit at least once. Hope you get to visit.

  20. Thank you so much for your lovely comments. St Dunstan in the East Garden is definitely worth visiting and easily combined with a visit to the Tower of London.

  21. Sounds like a beautiful place. Love the Gothic architecture. Wish I had known about the garden before my visit to London! Maybe next time.

  22. Your photos are beautiful, and really make me want to visit St Dunstan and enjoy the serenity there.

  23. Looks nice on the outside. Is the church worth seeing from the inside?

  24. Beautifully narrated the story and history of hidden gem in the city of London. Going on my must visit list.

  25. I think so too, they will have an absolutely fun time exploring and discovering St Dunstant in the East. It is a beautiful little garden and it is really very quiet. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

  26. St Dunstan looks so charming and definitely someplace I’d love to visit next time I’m in London. I think my children will enjoy exploring and roaming around the beautiful gardens.

  27. Oh for real! I could imagine myself just sitting on one of the benches and reading a book with a tumbler of hot eat beside me.

  28. I am so delighted to know that you have visited St Dunstan in the East. It is truly a place where one can find a quiet respite from the chaos of the city. Hope you will revisit soon. Thank you so much for sharing.

  29. A historical spot turned into a garden – it is indeed a lovely place to visit. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments.

  30. I know this place! I often bring my cabin crew colleagues around as their official tour guide during our London layovers. I remember bringing them here for IG shots (yes, cause we are all wannabe infuencers) and we stayed here to chill and rest. It is such a great refuge amidst all the urban chaos! Thank you for posting this. It reminded me of a great experience.

  31. MY RIG Adventures says:

    Wow, what a gorgeous old church. If only the walls could talk. Such a shame that some of it was destroyed by bombs though.

  32. You are absolutely correct, Kelly 🙂 London has so many hidden gems which I am still discovering. Ohhh, do visit St Dunstan in the East, with the still summer sunshine in early autumn, you will love it, for sure.

  33. Georgina, lovely blog! I’m housesitting in London now and will make an effort to stroll through the garden. There are so many “hidden gems” in London!

  34. It is indeed a delightful garden in the heart of London and a great historical gem. Happy that you enjoyed reading this article.

  35. ASA | Marilyn says:

    A delightful read of an enchanting secret garden in the heart of London. Wonderful to learn more about the churches history and know that it’s been preserved for future generations to experience and enjoy.

  36. Absolutely! London is a very old City and history abounds here but every now and again I come across these little gems with a twist of modernity to it, with purpose connected to Earth – wonderful. Glad you enjoyed the post, Gabby. When you visit London, this will be on the top of our list for you 🙂

  37. So happy that you enjoyed the blog. I loved my discovery and loved writing on it. Super happy that you will visit here. Thank you so much for your kind words, really appreciate it.

  38. Thank you so much, Christy. I enjoyed visiting this beautiful garden that I returned twice in two weeks. I am sure you will visit when you are here. Can’t take all the credit on the photos, the lighting was perfect, but “thank you”

  39. What a beautiful little find and so rich with history! I’m absolutely fascinated with this church, perhaps what grabs me the most is that it’s been “restored” to a truly peaceful environment contrasted with the damage of the bombs.

  40. Love this blog. Beautifully written giving multifacited reasons to visit. Nice accompanying images. As someone who visits London quite a lot this has opened new opportunities for me.

  41. Christy La Barthe says:

    Well you had me at medieval and Gothic! Excellent blog about a place that I will love to visit next time we are in London. Your photos are beautiful.

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