London is without doubt the busiest city in the UK. No matter the time of day or night there is always traffic. Airplanes nosily pass by overhead every couple of minutes. Despite the tightly packed buildings there is always the rumble of more building work going on. Whether living, working or visiting such a hectic place a little green haven is needed and in the City of London you're never too far from one.
Around the City of London there are over 200 gardens and open green spaces. Some of these have been long established as large parks and fields. Others have come about through world changing events. Tucked away in a corner of the city is St. Dunstan in the East. The first church built on this site was established in Saxon times. It was restored by Dunstan in 950. Dunstan later became Archbishop of Canterbury and canonised in 1029 with the church being dedicated to him.
Being located in the City of London it was one of the thousands of buildings affected by the Great Fire of London in 1666. It was partially rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren with a tower and steeple added. By the 19th century it was found the building had serious structural problems and it was decided to rebuild it completely with Wren's tower and steeple being incorporated in the new building.
One thing the church couldn't escape from was the falling bombs during the Blitz of 1941. Wren's tower and steeple survived again along with the north and south walls. After the war the Anglican Church had to make a decision on which churches it would repair and it decided to leave St. Dunstan as a ruin. The parish was combined with the nearby All Hallows by the Tower.
Despite being ruins it was designated Grade I listed building status in 1950. It took some years to decide what to do with the space until in 1967 the City of London announced it would be turned into a public garden. It was finally opened in 1970. Last year maintenance and improvement works took place to help revitalise the garden for its visitors. While we were there two people were tidying up the garden with work also being carried out on the stonework.
As I wandered around to the side of the church I spotted on one of the walls a little plaque stating that the fig tree, which still seemed to be in place in front of it, was planted by the Coronation Planting Committee. This was a scheme organised throughout what was still known as the British Empire and other places overseas. The idea was to organise tree planting in preparation for the coronation of King George VI on 12th May 1937. I've never come across any others before and I do wonder how many trees have survived over the years – this one obviously just beat the Blitz.