Secret Gardens and Hideaways of Central & East London

“A brilliant morning shines on the old city. Its antiquities and ruins are surpassingly beautiful, with a lusty ivy gleaming in the sun, and the rich trees waving in the balmy air. Changes of glorious light from moving boughs, songs of birds, scents from gardens, woods, and fields – or, rather, from the one great garden of the whole cultivated island in its yielding time – penetrate into the Cathedral, subdue its earthy odour, and preach the Resurrection and the Life. The cold stone tombs of centuries ago grow warm; and flecks of brightness dart into the sternest marble corners of the building, fluttering there like wings.”

(The Mystery of Edwin Drood, by Charles Dickens)

St Dunstan-in-the-East

Situated half way between London Bridge and Tower Bridge, this parish church was mostly destroyed by Hitler’s Luftwaffe during the Blitz of WWII and now serves as a public garden. Only the bell tower, designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1695, survives intact. Following the War the Anglican Church decided not to rebuild St Dunstan’s, with the City of London Corporation opening it to the public in 1971. Melancholic and romantic in equal measures it just goes to prove that not everything has to be saved.



St Mary’s Secret Garden

This horticultural venture in Hackney incorporates four distinct zones – a natural woodland area complete with beehives, a food growing area, a herb garden and a herbaceous border. The garden encourages locals of all ages to use the space as a learning facility and to ultimately strengthen the community spirit as well. (more on st. mary’s secret garden)



St Alphage Gardens

This garden surrounds a section of the old London Wall on the edge of the Barbican Centre. Originally part of the northern section of the Roman Fort (built in AD 120) it decomposed and was rebuilt during the Saxon era. A great stop when exploring the rest of London Wall. (more on London Wall)




Barber Surgeon’s Hall Gardens

Abutting the Museum of London, this stretch of green contains a medieval tower section of the London Wall. If you look closely you can observe how this tower was even used as a home at one point with evidence of modern bricks, stairs to a second floor and the outline of a fireplace. At the end of the garden you will find the enchanting herb garden of Barber-Surgeon’s Hall. (more on London Wall)



Postman’s Park

A short walk from St Paul’s Cathedral, this former burial ground has been resurrected as a memorial garden to Heroic Self Sacrifice, in recognition of ordinary people who died saving the lives of others. Each dedication tile pulls the heartstrings, thus transporting the space into a deeply contemplative one. (more on Postman’s Park)



Camley Street Natural Park

Hard to believe you’re a stones throw away from Kings Cross rail terminal here. Camley Street Natural Park is two acres of idiosyncratic land sitting snugly on the banks of the Regent’s Canal. Arising in 1984 from it’s former life as a coal yard it progressively kick-started the regeneration of the whole area. The space offers peace and quite primarily, but also an education and a way of engaging Londoners with wildlife in how we can help nurture and protect it amongst the bustle of city life.



The Phoenix Garden

This most unforthcoming haven is located amongst the shadows of St Giles-in-the-Fields parish church behind the junction of Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross. (It’s okay…I didn’t even know about it’s exsistence till now either!) A community garden built in 1984 on the site of an old car park, that is now maintained by locals using sustainable methods that try to encourage a safe habitat for as many species as possible with the hardiest of plants.



Inns of Court

The white-collar associations for barristers in England and Wales comprising of Gray’s Inn, Lincoln’s Inn, Inner & Middle Temple. Situated in close proximity of each other between Temple and Chancery Lane tube stations, each Inn of Court provides a self-contained area for barristers to train and practice, providing professional accommodation, library & dining facilities with an adjoined church or chapel. The gardens within these courts are manicured to perfection, have an air of studious and dignified hush, and more importantly are also open to the public.




Victoria Embankment Gardens

Immediately behind the Savoy, this well hidden green sanctuary serves well as a refuge from the hurly burly of Trafalgar Square and the Strand. It also houses a most grandiose display of memorials.



Mount Street Gardens

Originally the burial ground of St George’s of Hanover Square until the 1854 Act of Parliament proscribed interment within central London, this space has since been redeveloped from its workhouse roots into an oasis of calm and colour. And should the plushness of Mount Street’s boutiques or the drinks bill at Scott’s, Harry’s Bar, Le Caprice or the Connaught prove too much…then you’ll know where to catch your breath. (or call the bank manager)



Kensington Palace Orangery Gardens

When Queen Anne succeeded the throne from William of Orange in 1702 she took it upon herself to restore to glory the somewhat dilapidated gardens at Kensington, with an ‘orangery’/conservatory completed in 1704 as a summer supper house and a destination for entertaining, of which it still remains today. The gardens are surrounded by a charming tunnel of vines, and provide respite from the hordes herding themselves to and from Kensington Palace.




About londoninsight

A compassionate photographer working to better her understanding of her town, her village, London.
This entry was posted in Cemeteries, Charles Dickens, Churches, For kids, Gardening, Gardens, Historic, Memorials, Parks, Roman and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Secret Gardens and Hideaways of Central & East London

  1. Oooh and aaah. There are some simply sumptuous gardens here – thank you so much.

  2. bones da bass says:

    An excellent and inspiring blog! I’m off exploring our beautiful city again asap…

  3. Linda Watson says:

    You make me want to go exploring, thank you

    • Hooray! I’ve now starting cycling lots because of these secret garden stories, it makes it easier to discover more in one day. Let me know if you discover any new gardens I may have missed.

  4. Pingback: Why Gardening Is More Than Just A Diversion | Catering Brea

  5. This is an excellent post. Well done.

  6. Christine says:

    This is a wonderful glimpse, a post I thoroughly enjoyed… Thankyou

  7. Pingback: Secret Gardens and Hideaways of South London | London-In-Sight Blog

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