Some things are just not meant to disappear. Such is the legendary St. Dunstan in the East. Time and history have done their best to wipe the 900-year-old church from the face of the earth, only to fail time after time.
Where Is St. Dunstan In The East
Located on St. Dunstan Hill in the heart of the City of London, St. Dunstan in the East is halfway in-between the Tower of London and the London Bridge. If you’re taking the London Underground, it’s about a 25-minute train ride from Buckingham Palace. The closest stations you should use are Tower Hill and Monument. You can easily get there by bus, train or DLR as well.
Its 900-Year History
The original St. Dunstan church was built around the year 1100. Five hundred years later, the church was badly damaged during the Great London Fire of 1666. It would take 30 years to repair the damage, culminating with a new Gothic-style steeple, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, one of the most acclaimed architects in history. By the early 1800s, the structure of the now 700-year-old church began to decline. The local parish decided to completely rebuild the church while keeping Wren’s gothic steeple intact. The work was completed in 1821. The church continued to operate for the next 120 years until it was nearly completely destroyed by a German bomb during the Blitz on London in 1941. The only parts of the church that were left were Wren’s tower and Gothic Steeple.
The ruined church stood untouched for nearly 30 years until in 1967, the City of London turned the ruins into a public park and garden.
Now, the gardens and ruins have become one of the most popular tourist destinations around the City of London, as well as a popular spot for Londoners to gather for lunch during the workweek and on the weekends. The park and gardens are also a popular place for weddings and events, and it is possible to rent the space.
The majestical Wren’s tower and steeple are now home to a charity called the All Hallows House Foundation, which is dedicated to providing health services to the residents of the City of London.
The charm of the park is found in watching nature and man-made objects come together. Trees and vines grow unencumbered through the ruins, winding and around walls and through the window. Nature, sort of reclaiming its dominion over man.
Best Times To Visit
St. Dunstan in the East is open year-round, except on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day, from 8 a.m. to dusk and is free to visit.
The park and garden have become very popular as an Instagram photo location, and attendance seems to swell on the weekends. Seasonally, the park offers new experiences according to the weather. Summers are a popular time because the ruins and trees provide a sort of shelter from the heat. Winter provides opportune photos, as a dusting of snow turns the ruins almost fable-like.
During the week, the best time to visit to catch the peace and tranquility of the gardens is in the mornings during the workweek, before the lunch rush. This is the best time to find a good bench to relax on, and maybe have your morning coffee.
Know Before You Go
When making your way to the ruins, make sure you are heading to St. Dunstan in the East, as there is also a St. Dunstan in the West church. This church is located near Covent Garden and is equally beautiful, but it is not the location of the ruins and garden. For more London inspiration, consider:
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- The Secret Underground Train In London You Can Actually Ride
- 13 Things To Know Before Visiting The Tower Of London
- 18 Free (Or Nearly Free) Things To Do In Covent Garden