Take A Walk Through The City Of London's Pocket Parks

M@
By M@
Take A Walk Through The City Of London's Pocket Parks

We took a walk through some of the Square Mile's pocket parks. They're everywhere, and beautiful, and packed with history.

Starting in St Paul's Churchyard — hardly a pocket park, but often overlooked. It's gorgeous right now; wisteria competing with rainbows.

Through Paternoster Sq to Christ Church Greyfriars. It's a Christopher Wren church, heavily damaged in the Blitz. The nave was turned into a garden, and what a stunner it is.

A quick shimmy across the road brings us to Postman's Park. Famed for its wall of plaques commemorating heroic deaths, the park has other treasures, including the City's only handkerchief tree — currently (May 2018) in bloom.

Gresham St takes us to St Anne & St Agnes churchyard. This offers views of one of the largest surviving chunks of the city wall — this bit was part of a Roman fort established almost 2,000 years ago.

Right next door is the Goldsmiths' garden, former churchyard of St John Zachary, split over two levels. The statue shows a newsboy, a printer and an editor - a monument to the newspaper industry.

This area was once packed with churches. St Olave Silver Street was lost in the Great Fire. Its site carries a plaque to an author you might have heard of. Also there's a skyscraper-reflecting pool.

The City's newest park is across the road at London Wall Place. The contrast of ruined church (St Alphage) and weathered steel pedways is rather special, and a welcome addition to the Square Mile. But watch out for the minotaur.

Salters Gardens lies down-wind of the minotaur's backside. This beautiful knot garden lurks beneath another old section of wall, and was recently spruced up with a new fountain and plantings.

We follow London Wall to Finsbury Circus. Once one of the City's most beautiful green spaces, it's currently in a decade-long doldrums thanks to Crossrail digging. Even so, the western end is a delight, with mature plane trees and the only bandstand in the Square Mile.

St Botolph's on Bishopsgate is one of three churches in the City to carry that name. The garden is a delight, with plenty of architectural features and a novelty fountain. The church only lost one window in the Blitz, but was badly damaged in 1993 Bishopsgate bomb blast.

We head south down Bishopsgate to reach two neighbouring churches with pocket gardens. St Peter's and St Michael Cornhill are both set back from the main roads, offering tranquil spots to escape the throng.

A sidestep along Fenchurch St brings us to Fen Court. It's a bit of a building site right now, but that doesn't detract from the power of the Gilt of Cain sculpture, a monument to the end of the transatlantic slave trade.

Crossing Eastcheap, we reach St Dunstan-in-the-East. Another Wren church, wrecked in the Blitz, is reborn as a romantic ruin — beloved of 'secret London' guidebooks. It's with good reason. If anything could ever be described as a 'hidden gem', this is it.

Nearby, Seething Lane Garden is another new green spot, at least in its current form. It's lovely. And intriguing. A bust of local boy Samuel Pepys presides over paving imprinted with scenes from his diary, including his famous parmesan cheese.

And so to Tower Hill Garden, close to one of London's most notorious execution spots. The park is one of the few places in the Square Mile to boast a playground.

Our walk around the City's gardens ends here, though there are many other pockets around the Square Mile. Our final images show a green space crafted and grafted onto a disused Barbican platform. Happy exploring!

Last Updated 17 May 2018

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