Any good city keeps plenty of green spaces for its citizens and visitors, and London is no exception. The capital city records nearly 18% of its land is a public open space, including parks large and small. London’s hidden parks are scattered throughout the city, offering peace and greenery in contrast to the city’s bustle.
While some of London’s parks are anything but hidden, like the sweeping Royal Parks, London’s hidden parks are often just off busy thoroughfares or nestled beneath brick buildings mellowing with the centuries. They provide a relaxing spot to sit and recharge, especially when you’ve been out roaming busy city streets — a lovely urban oasis where birdsong replaces the the buzz of traffic, and bright flowers replace drab pavement. Looking for a place to put your feet up for a few moments during your busy London vacation? Let’s find a few of London’s hidden parks!
One charmer of a hidden park is Red Cross Garden, located in the Southwark area close to the looming glass tower of The Shard and several attractions like the HMS Belfast. Close to the London Bridge tube station, Red Cross Garden is a piece of Victorian history, a community garden originally designed in 1886.
In need of a place to rest your feet after wandering the British Museum? Try Postman’s Park, a quiet corner named after the postal workers who lunched here in the early twentieth century. The park offers benches for tired travelers along a garden walk, plus a dose of history. Postman’s Park is home to the Watts Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice, which features tributes to people who gave up their lives to save others. You can ponder the acts of these everyday heroes on the glazed tiles placed along the memorial wall, or just enjoy the garden fountain, sundial, and plant-life before heading back out to tackle more of London.
After you’ve paid your respects to Harry Potter at King’s Cross Station, head a few blocks north to Camley Street Natural Park, which needs no magic at all to whisk you out of the city. Two acres of former coal yard is now a multi-habitat nature reserve, with wetlands, meadow and woods. You can get a unique look at this urban oasis, blooming right up against the city buildings, from the Viewpoint floating platform, which is a manmade “island” on the Regent’s Canal.
In the bustling streets between London Bridge and the Tower of London, the ruins of a church provide an unexpected break from the crowds. And when you get there, you might even feel a little deja vu. As Time-Out London slyly points out, St. Dunstan-in-the-East , a sometimes-wedding venue, looks an awful lot like the crumbling church where Ross married Emily on Friends. This church had a rough time in both the Great Fire of London (1666) and the Blitz (1941) and today its ruins are a public garden, where you can wander and ponder the weight of history, the beauty of gardens, and whatever happened to Emily.
Starving from all that wandering? If you’re ready to eat local, it doesn’t get much more farm-to-table than Skip Garden & Kitchen, located near bustling King’s Cross. Seasonal lunches and homemade baked goods are on the menu at this sustainable dining enterprise.
London’s hidden parks are scattered around the city, offering travelers a chance to settle down for a little peace and quiet, rest their eyes on some greenery, and yet still marvel at the history all around.
Still looking for the perfect London park? Try this guide from A Peace of London, a blog which explores London’s quiet places.