Discovering hidden gems
When you live and work in London, you grow almost immune to the sight of the remarkable buildings - historical and modern - and sites that make the capital such a magnificent, impressive and richly beautiful city. Of course it's impossible not to have your breath well and truly taken away when you go to a meeting in an office where the view is this....
...or walk along the street past buildings like this:
But what I find the most thrilling, about London and every city and town I've ever visited, is when you stumble across little tucked away gems. Buildings or places that make no grand announcement of their presence, but that delight you with their unexpected history, beauty, and/or quirkiness. That unobtrusively invite you to take the time to discover them, then reward you with the feeling that your day has been just that bit more special for the experience.
It was walking back from the meeting overlooking the Tower of London (how ever do they get any work done with a view like that? I'd never stop gazing out of the window!) when I came across just one of those spots. Hemmed in by office blocks and the soaring towers of the City of London is the ruined shell of the Church of St Dunstan in the East.
The first church was apparently built on the site in Saxon times. It was then restored by St Dunstan in 950AD and rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London in 1697. The only remaining part of Wren's building today is the tower.
The church was rebuilt in 1817 and destroyed again during the blitz in 1941. Now only the outside walls survive and where the interior would have been, there's a beautiful garden.
To say finding such a peaceful, magical place in the midst of the teeming streets of the City was unexpected would be an understatement. I spent a wonderful 20 minutes admiring the ancient walls, gradually being enveloped by the plants growing over and around them; the elegant, arched, glass-less windows,
and the intricate cobbled tiled flooring;
then went on my way with my spirits lifted and my day well and truly made.
Do share any hidden gems you've come across in your travels, or your home town, in the comments section below.