By Esin Huseyin
So you’ve all probably read Koray’s review on St Dunstan’s Park by now, which is growing in popularity since we’ve dropped the initial review. It honestly is unlike anything I’ve ever visited in London, and to be quite honest – I’m glad.
I actually was taken to this park by Koray, and wasn’t actually expecting anything, even though his pictures were incredible. But it’s only until you see the greenery through the grey uniformed buildings on the street, that you realise you’re in for a real retreat in London.
Unlike other parks I’ve been to, you genuinely feel like you’re stepping into a completely different world; the ruined and weather-worn church looks completely gothic and almost eerie, but it’s brought back to have a natural yet ethereal feeling with the green trees and bushes. In fact, it’s totally encompassing to have trees almost growing completely over you, and even peeking their way through the broken windows, where once stain glasses used to to be (I’m assuming).
The park isn’t huge and only really has one large courtyard (sort of), but the size and seclusion given from the trees gives this park a real intimate feeling. The entire 45 minutes I was there, not another soul entered the park – it would make for a great place to escape from the city, catch a little breather.
From as soon as you step over the threshold of the church, you literally step into a different world; the troubles, the sounds, London dissolves away – you’re left with nothing but your thoughts, and the stories that St Dunstan’s holds.
By Koray Hussein
This is actually a first for me. This is the first time I’ve written a review for Maybe whilst I am actually in the place I am reviewing. Right now as I type this I’m sitting on the (let me just look over and count) third (that didn’t take long) bench in from the left, in front of the modest fountain with the Walkie Talkie looming over me on my right.
Hundreds of cars are zooming past the Tower of London a mere matter of meters (bet you can’t say that over and over really fast) away from me whilst planes soar right above me and you know what? I feel super peaceful right now.
This place (much like Postman’s Park) seems to have some sort of Horlick’s level relaxation forcefield around it which just relaxes your mind and body the second you step through the gates.
This may have something to do with the fact that St Dunstan-in-the-East is spectacularly different from pretty much every park or garden I have ever been to.
No matter which entrance you use you’ll be confronted with the old and beautiful church walls engulfed by the surrounding trees; sunlight peaking through and leaving sporadic bright spots. You walk further in and find yourself greeted with a wonky circle of benches surrounding a small water fountain. All of this combined really does create a genuinely magically feeling inside the garden and is the reason that it feels so peaceful.
The fact that each and every time I have been here it has been completely empty, blows my mind. I’d understand if it was out of the way but St Dunstan-in-the-East is just so easy to get to! It’s literally a few minutes away from Tower Hill and Fenchurch Street Station with Barbican Station a short walk in the opposite direction.
How am I sitting here listening to Mazzy Star and sipping a rather disgusting coffee, with only a couple of pigeons for company?!
I’m genuinely staggered how this beautiful slice of London has gone unnoticed by the masses for so long.
Let’s go through just a few of the reasons why this place should be one of London’s most well known small parks:
Beautiful greenery? Check.
Easy to get to? Check.
Crazy backstory, of an old church first built almost a thousand years ago that was bombed in World War II and converted into a garden with the old but beautiful church walls still standing? F**king check!
Seriously, if the Spanish Steps in Rome can be a world famous landmark (Mi dispiace Italiani, but they’re just steps. I have some at home. Nice ones with carpet and everything.) then why is this place not on some guy in Central Europe’s list of places to visit when he comes to London?
Ever since I found St Dunstan a few months ago I’ve been asking around to see if anybody knows about this place, and bar one of our followers on Instagram (How you doing @blazer343?) not one person has known. Instead they narrow there eyes and ask me why I’m so surprised.
I shouldn’t actually answer them though. I should just pull out my phone, load up the small album I’ve made of the place and hand it over.
“This is in London?!” They (would hopefully) exclaim and ask for directions and the back story…
A few months ago there was only one recommendation I’d give when someone asked me for a peaceful spot to relax in London: the aforementioned Postman’s Park. Now? It’s without a shadow of a doubt this former church.