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St Dunstan in the East: Visit London’s Charming Urban Sanctuary

St Dunstan in the East: Visit London’s Charming Urban Sanctuary

The tranquil ruins of the medieval church, St Dunstan in the East, is one of London’s leafy hidden spots. 

The 1000-year-old ruin, a mere stone’s throw from the Tower of London, is not well-known to tourists, unlike its famous neighbour, but has the allure of an undiscovered urban sanctuary.

The church ruins and delightful garden provide a green space for office workers from the skyrise city buildings that engulf this tiny space and for visitors who unintentionally stumble upon its setting.

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stone arch church window with ivy growing over it

A Little Slice of History

Following the construction of the Saxon church in the 12th century, it was dedicated to Saint Dunstan. He was a monk in the 10th century who later became Archbishop of Canterbury.

Before that, he is said to have lived a colourful existence. He survived as a leper, dabbled in the occult, and, as legend tells us – even met the Devil himself!

Saint Dunstan was not the only one with a fascinating past – the church has also endured an incredibly unpredictable history.

The Great Fire of London in 1666 saw the church receive considerable damage, and it was initially patched together. Some years later, Sir Christopher Wren (of St Paul’s Cathedral fame) stepped in to design the tower and steeple.

Fun Fact:  Sir Christopher Wren designed and built 51 churches in London following The Great Fire of London in 1666.

Bombing raids again took their toll during the Second World War, destroying much of St Dunstan in the East.  

All that now remains of the original structure are the tower and steeple, obviously very well built by Wren, and surprisingly, the outer walls.

After the war, It was decided not to rebuild the church again.

In 1970, it was opened as a public garden for the people of London to enjoy.

With stone windows entwined with ivy climbers, the ruins of St Dunstan in the East now have an almost ethereal feel.

Charles Dickens described St Dunstan in the East as his best-loved churchyard

London’s urban sanctuary is worth a quick visit, especially at weekends when the city office workers are not around.

Bring a sandwich, your favourite novel or even a set of paints and enjoy the serenity of this magical outdoor space before you continue exploring the myriad of other incredible landmarks to see in London.

Where to find St Dunstan in the East

Address St Dunstan’s Hill, Billingsgate, London EC3R 5DD

Opening times All year. Daily. Open 8 am to 7 pm or dusk if earlier.

Entrance fee Entrance free.

Nearest Underground Stations Monument and Tower Hill.

Please Pin For Future Travel to London

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Jonathan Moore

Wednesday 19th of January 2022

Great post on one of my favourite areas in London!


Wednesday 19th of January 2022

Thank you Jonny - there are lots of hidden gems in that area of London as I am sure you are aware. Great for exploring London's great history.