Thursday, 7 June 2018

St Dunstan-In-The-East

I happened across St Dunstan-In-The-East church quite by accident whilst walking the backstreets of the square mile on the Sculpture In The City trail (here). It is such a beautiful, tranquil garden sanctuary, hemmed in amidst a throng of imposing banks, offices and a hotel. The St Dunstan-In-The-East church steeple was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and added during the rebuilding work of 1695-1701. The church suffered further devastation in the Blitz of 1941, and in 1967 it was decided to turn the ruined shell of the building into a public garden.

The church was first built in 1100 and was severely damaged by the Great Fire of London. You can actually glimpse the Monument commemorating the Great Fire through one of the derelict windows of the church. The Monument is a brief 5 minute stroll away but you can experience it (here).

The relatively small space has changes of level making it appear larger than it actually is, and is planted with dense climbers, fragrant shrubs and some exotic palms.

There is a real sense of theatricality about this garden. It is like being in a stage set. Walking around this space and gardens I kept seeing the romantic ruins of the paintings of derelict churches by artist John Piper, and couldn't help but wonder if he had ever visited or painted this particular church.

I was there during the weekend when most of the area and the church grounds were deserted and devoid of the presence of the usual office workers. It was so atmospheric, and the silence though eerie, was most welcome in what is usually a noisy, hectic city.