Non-Touristy Things To Do In East London

By Daan Deol Last edited 18 months ago
Non-Touristy Things To Do In East London

Think you've seen all east London has to offer? If you're looking for something new to explore, try one of these highlights of the area:

One out of a magnificent seven

Tower Hamlets Cemetery. Photo: Gábor Hernádi

Get lost in the Gothic world of one of London's Magnificent Seven: Tower Hamlets Cemetery. See the memorial of former Poplar mayor, and campaigner for the poor Will Crooks, explore the intricate carvings and their meanings, go on a self guided walk and explore the diverse wildlife there.

Adventure Golf

Get in touch with your inner child and head to Moby Golf on Whalebone Lane. Based on the legend of Moby Dick, the crazy golf park lies on Whalebone Lane, across from the Moby Dick pub. Why the obsession with whales you ask? The answer lies at Valence House — well worth a visit — in a set of whale bones.

Positively medieval

Check out Valence House's Whalebone Gallery and see the marine mammalian bones that, until 1870, formed an arch next to the toll house at the junction of Whalebone Lane and Chadwell Heath High Road.

Dating back to medieval times, Valence House is the last surviving manor house in Dagenham. Partially surrounded by a moat, the house offers galleries telling the story of Barking and Dagenham and its very own cinema, screening original films made for The Dagenham Co-operative Film Society.

Ancient ruins... in east London?

Go back in time and stroll through the ruins of Barking Abbey, which was dissolved in 1539 and destroyed. The first abbey was built in 666 AD, and the last remaining part of the abbey is the Curfew Tower, which remains intact over the Gateway, with its carved stone rood in the chapel, leading through to St Margaret's Churchyard.

The Ruins of Barking Abbey. Photo: Matt Brown

Kayaking on the Thames

If you're an experience paddler, explore the East End as you kayak along its waterways. Take the route starting in River Lee, through the Lee Valley and make your way up the Limehouse Cut. The Lee Valley has been used for transport since as early as the Bronze Age, so you'll be paddling in the strokes of thousands of years of history.

Meridian line

On Pole Hill you will find the Pole Hill Obelisk. This marks the Greenwich Meridian line. The obelisk was erected in 1824 to mark where the line lies on Chingford Plain.

The Pole Hill Obelisk. Photo: Fin Fahey

A forest fit for a Queen

Built by in 1543, on orders by Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge is an example of a timber-framed building, surrounded by its medieval hunting forest. Explore Tudor fashion and food, admire the view of Epping Forest and take a stroll through the forest. Nearby there's Sewardstone — the London postcode that's not in London.

Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge. Photo: Matt Brown

A house, or a time capsule?

A still-life drama depicting the lives of a family of Huguenot silk-weavers, Dennis Severs' House is a fascinating hidden gem. Lived in by Severs from 1979-1999, he recreated rooms in the style of former centuries, so you can smell, see and hear your way through 1724-1914 in this three-storey time capsule.

Board games and beer

London's first board game cafe, Draughts is the place to go to get your game on. With great food, over 600 games to choose from and range of local crafted beers, ales and ciders, you won't get bored. There's also tournaments, themed nights and design workshops, with professional board game designers on hand to help.

Grab a curry on Green Street

Any Londoner knows Brick Lane doesn't have the best curries. Known as Little India, Green Street in East Hamis where you'll find some of east London's best curries. Spoilt for choice, there are several restaurants for visitors to choose from, but the one that stands out most is Vijay's Chawalla, an all-vegetarian south Indian restaurant. Great food, and reasonable prices, it's a highlight of the area.

Last Updated 28 July 2017