The A-Z of Quiet London

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  • F is for films

    Silent moviesFor those looking to avoid the big bangs and needless din of Hollywood blockbusters, the NFT’s Silent Comedy season is on until July 24. Next to be shown are forgotten classics ‘Molly O’ (1921) and ‘Daisy Doodad’s Dial’ (1914).National Film Theatre, Belvedere Rd, SE1 (020 7928 3232/www.bfi.org.uk) Waterloo tube/rail.

    G is for gardens

    Eltham PalaceThe grounds of this palace (owned by English Heritage) include rose gardens, rock gardens and borders dating from the 1930s. The palace itself is a quieter alternative to more famous homes. Eltham Palace, Court Yard, SE9. From junction 3 of M25, follow English Heritage signs along Court Rd (A208) (020 8294 2548/www.
    english-heritage.org.uk) Eltham rail.

    Paddington Street
    Large leafy trees spreading shade across a tidy lawn, a playground where well-behaved children play quietly… Paddington Street Gardens, tucked into the recesses of Marylebone High Street, is almost too good to be true.
    Paddington Street Gardens, Paddington St, W1. Baker St tube.

    Victoria & Albert Museum
    Visit the V&A on a sunny weekday morning, when the John Madejski Garden is an utterly soothing place to sit admiring the sculptures and listening to the sound of splashing fountains.
    V&A, Cromwell Rd, SW7 (020 7942 2000/www.vam.ac.uk) South Kensington tube.

    H is for holy

    St Bride’sThe shaded churchyard offers cool respite from the whirr of traffic in Fleet Street beyond. St Bride’s, in its current form, was the first Wren church to be opened after the Great Fire. Its famous tiered steeple is said to have inspired the tiered wedding cake. The quietest spot is the crypt, but the lunchtime recitals every Tuesday and Friday at 1.15pm are blissfully tranquil too. St Bride’s, Fleet St, EC4 (020 7427 0133) Temple tube. All Souls ChurchThe delicate rotunda entrance encased within Doric columns exerts a serene force over the north end of Regent’s Street. The last remaining church by John Nash, the architect behind Regent’s Park, was built in 1827. There’s a lunchtime service followed by a buffet on Thursday at 1.30pm. A much more placid fix of religion than Phil sinner-or-winner’s clamorous pitch down the road.All Souls Church, Langham Place, 2 All Souls Place,W1(020 7580 3522) Oxford Circus tube.

    71 LON St Dunstan.jpg
    H is for holy - St Dunstan-in-the-East (credit: Rob Greig)

    St Dunstan-in-the-East
    Possibly the City’s most sequestered spot is the garden in the bombed out remains of the medieval St Dunstan-in-the-East, which was destroyed in the Blitz. Wall shrubs and climbers spill in through the derelict arched windows and scale the defunct steeple, while the tinkle of a fountain in the former nave drowns out yonder traffic.
    St Dunstan-in-the-East Church Garden, St Dunstan’s Hill, EC3. Monument tube.

    Charterhouse
    You can’t get much more quiet than a monastery, and the modern-day incarnation of Charterhouse in Clerkenwell is still a site of calm mainly due to the fact that it’s now a residence for gentleman pensioners. Book a guided tour to have one of the veteran residents take you round.Charterhouse, Charterhouse Square, EC1. Farringdon tube/rail. Tours Wed afternoon. Pre-book through tour booking line (020 7251 5002).

    Tyburn Convent
    This peaceful retreat by Marble Arch is home to 25 cloistered nuns, who work in shifts to maintain a continual silent contemplation in the ground-floor chapel, while the basement contains a spooky shrine to Catholics martyred on the Tyburn tree. Down here, the chaos of Marble Arch could be miles, rather than just yards, away.
    Tyburn Convent, 8 Hyde Park Place, W2 (www.tyburnconvent.org.uk) Marble Arch tube.
    A sister is available for guided tours daily at 10.30am, 3.30pm and 5.30pm.

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