St Dunstan in the East: From Saxon Church to London Blitz Ruins

St Dunstan in the East: From Saxon Church to London Blitz Ruins

London, the exciting metropolis where you can shop till you drop, get your art fix or see a concert, movie, theatre play or musical every night of the week. But after you’ve done all that or if just want a short break from the crowded high streets, why not explore London’s fascinating history? There are still so many landmarks and sites left that remind us of the city’s past, ever since it was founded by the Romans in 43 AD. All you have to do is look beyond the busy shopping streets. The ruins of the old Saxon church St Dunstan in the East, less than a 15-min walk from London Bridge, make for a tranquil and magical spot in the City.

St Dunstan in the East

From bombsite to a secret public garden

The ruins of St Dunstan in the East are located halfway between London Bridge and Tower Bridge and you can access the site via Idol Lane and St Dunstan’s Hill. The original church on this site was built in Saxon times and later restored by St Dunstan, after whom the church was renamed, in 950 AD. Unfortunately, the church was one of the 87 parish churches to be destroyed in the Great Fire of London in September 1666. Sir Christopher Wren, who also rebuilt the destroyed St Paul’s Cathedral, restored St Dunstan in the East in 1697 and added a steeple and tower.

However, this was not the last disaster for the church as it was bombed during the terrifying Blitz of London; heavy bombing by the German Luftwaffe over 56 consecutive days. Curiously, Wren’s steeple and tower survived the bombing. After WW II it was decided not to rebuild St Dunstan in the East as a church and eventually the ruins were transformed into a public garden in 1970. Come to this photogenic spot and enjoy the peace and quiet for a moment whilst you can see the modern skyscrapers in the near distance. While the ancient brick church may be dwarfed by the modern buildings in size, its history and legacy are far greater than of those towers made out of steel and glass.

St Dunstan in the East with the Walkie Talkie

St Dunstan in the East
St Dunstan in the East

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St Dunstan in the East London

Dutchie in the UK, expat, nomad, culture vulture. Loves kale – on a plate, not in a smoothie – Thai curries (fiery hot please) and Belgian beers. Also blogs on 'Dutch Girl in London' about London, lifestyle, (street) art and culture.


  1. Esther van den Bergh : August 29, 2018 at 7:44 pm

    What a beautiful place! Must be really great to retreat into it!
    Thank you!

    • zarinarimbaudkadirbaks : August 29, 2018 at 9:53 pm

      It’s certainly something different from the nearby offices! So glad I found this place and got to share it with you 🙂

  2. Lovely photos Zarina!
    This was always a favourite spot for me during my years in London.I discovered it quite by accident one day after visiting the Monument,another favourite and under-appreciated place.
    It certainly is an oasis amongst the busy city workers that surround it.

    • zarinarimbaudkadirbaks : August 29, 2018 at 9:52 pm

      Thank you! It’s my new camera 😉
      I had never heard of this place before and it’s such a great discovery!

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