Rather than simply incorporating grand parks into urban landscapes, great urban design often recognises the importance of introducing greenery and gardens into the buildings and streetscapes themselves. Plant matter can do much more than simply juxtapose construction materials and add texture to spaces. Urban greenery has proved to be a very good reminder of this and the value of these kinds of design initiatives goes beyond simple aesthetics or even environmental sustainability, it benefits human health and well-being on many levels.
Inspired by The City Centre’s 2016 ‘City Garden’ exhibition, here are 5 of our favourite City of London green spaces. Whether you’re looking for a quiet lunchtime getaway or an after work walk, this guide will have something for you!
1. Postman’s Park - Postman's Park is located just a short distance from St Paul’s Cathedral and is bordered by Little Britain, Aldersgate Street, St. Martin's Le Grand and King Edward Street. As the site of the former headquarters of the General Post Office (GPO), it is one of the largest parks in the City of London. The park acquired its name due to its popularity as a lunchtime garden for postal workers and is home to the famous Watts memorial which was built in 1900 to commemorate ‘heroic men and women’ who had lost their lives attempting to save others.
2. Barbican Conservatory - This hidden treasure is located on the 3rd floor of the theatre's fly tower and is home to over 2,000 species of tropical plants and trees. Unfortunately, it is only open on Sundays and Bank Holidays only from 12 noon–5pm but it makes for a wonderful excuse for a weekend trip to the City!
3. Christchurch Greyfriars Church Garden - During the middle ages this site served as a Franciscan monastery, however, following the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII the grounds were converted into a parish church. In 2011, the plot was redesigned and new planting implemented to reflect current trends in gardening and to increase biodiversity. Of particular interest, are the wooden towers within the planting, which replicate the original Church pillars act as Rose arboreta throughout the summer.
4. Bunhill Fields Burial Ground - Listed as both a Grade II listed building and Grade I listed National Register of Parks and Gardens, Bunhill Fields Burial Ground dates back to the 1600’s. Home to the graves of notable historical figures such as William Blake, Daniel Defoe, John Bunyan and Susannah Wesley. Conveniently, it is also located right next to The Artillery Arms pub!
5. St Dunstan In The East - Despite having nearly been destroyed twice since its construction around 1100, first during the Great Fire of 1666 and second during the Blitz, St Dunstan In The East remains a popular public garden run by the City of London. The ruins from this spectacular Grade I listed building are well worth a visit and remain one of our favourite spaces in the City.