Hidden garden in ruins of bombed out church near London Bridge is one of city's best kept secrets

Situated just a short stroll from London Bridge you'll find one of the city's best kept secrets. You could probably walk past the ruins of St Dunstan-in-the-East church and hardly notice it was there.

Its position in the financial sector of London means it's surrounded by a whole host of historic sites, while the nearby Tower of London trumps them all in attracting three million visitors every year. But this doesn't stop the London church from having its own unique link to the city's history.

St Dunstan-in-the-East dates back to 1100 when it was first built. Additions were made throughout the following centuries until it was severely damaged in the Great Fire of London in 1666. Despite this major setback, the acclaimed architect Christopher Wren stepped in to rebuild it.

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The church has been destroyed twice in its 900-year history
The church has been destroyed twice in its 900-year history -Credit:Luke Donnelly/MyLondon

He added a large steeple, and constructed the new walls in a gothic design which complimented its Middle Ages design. The church then resumed its function throughout the following centuries until the Second World War.

During the Blitz - which saw London relentlessly bombed for nearly 60 consecutive nights - the church suffered a direct hit and much of it was destroyed. Parts of Central and East London particularly suffered due to their industrial importance to the war effort, as in total one million homes across the city were damaged in the war.

As the rebuilding process began in the decades following the war, the decision was eventually made by the City of London to turn the bombed-out shell into a public garden. The peaceful site now acts as a refuge for Londoners amid an ever-changing city around them.

It's often busy during lunchtime as nearby office workers who are in the know, sit on the walls and benches while gazing across the gardens, but to the hundreds of thousands who pass through London Bridge Station nearby, and the major attractions around it, it remains relatively hidden. The church ruins also provide shade on warm summer days, and it is blessed with multiple secluded areas to explore.

If you want to go when it's quiet, early weekday mornings are likely the best time to visit. St Dunstan-in-the-East is situated a five-minute walk from Monument and Tower Hill on the Underground, while it's about a 10-minute walk from London Bridge station, across the river.

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