Thursday 10 November 2016

Urban Green Spaces – St. Dunstan in the East

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.


  1. I've been here, a summer's day, was lovely to stop and look at the ruins surrounded by flowers. Popular place for workers to have lunch, love that heritage, horticulture and pausing places for people.

  2. I love the way nature exists in even the most built up of cities ... and it is easy to see how she can take over derelict buildings. I too wonder how many of those trees planted by the Coronation Planting Committee have survived. #HDYGG

  3. I didn't realise there are so many parks and green spaces across London; they always seems so hard to find. Maybe I don't visit the right places ;)

  4. I love the green spaces you've found here. I must admit I'm always pleasantly surprised at home much greenery there is in London when I (rarely) visit.

    The old planting committee sign is a great find, it really makes you wonder what was planted and how much survived.

    Thanks for joining in again Jibbery one x

  5. it sounds like any large city. busy and loud. have never been but would love to one day

  6. Love the filled wheel barrow and i really miss the greenery in cites and towns, it's rather beige here in dubai

  7. came back here to tell you how funny it is that i live on saint dunstans circle :)

  8. Ah great shots, I keep meaning to get here but still haven't. One day :)


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