The area around Liverpool Street doesn't seem like an ideal location for a 'centre for reconciliation and peace', but St Ethelburga proved me wrong. I discovered this while wandering around the City and it is the most peaceful, unexpected place (if you can bring up the courage to ring the buzzer on the dodgy-looking gate). It's currently tucked amid a building site and overlooked by the Gherkin and Heron Tower but once inside, you'll find a delightful garden and circular, Bedouin-style tent. It's open during the week 10am-5pm, and if you ask nicely they might let you eat your lunch there.
Photo: Look Up London
A shockingly under-rated member of the 'Magnificant Seven' cemeteries, Tower Hamlets Cemetery park opened in 1841 and is London's most urban woodland. Notable graves include John Willis, original owner of The Cutty Sark, and Dr Rees Llewelyn, who performed the autopsy on Jack the Ripper's first victim. Okay, so it doesn't boast the A-list clientele of Highgate but it's still a charming mess of sprawling wildlife and impressive, haphazard monuments. I recently moved nearby and find myself using it as a shortcut wherever possible.
I've found that one of the best ways to escape the noise of London is to duck into a church. You can have a lovely chat with a priest or a kindly old lady - I was once even offered a cup of tea in St Pancras Old Church. One of my favourites is St Patrick's Catholic Church, right on the edge of Soho Square. Step inside and it feels like you're in Italy.
Photo: Look Up London
4. Redcross Cottages
This is a home in a quaint little village, right? Wrong. It's off Redcross Way in Southwark, about five minutes from the Shard and I stumbled across it while visiting Crossbones Graveyard. Octavia Hill, a nineteenth century social reformer, campaigned for decent and affordable housing for London's poor and tenants living here were able to escape the surrounding slums. These actual cottages are residential homes, but they're in a public park with a lovely pond and wild flowers.
This has to be one of my favourite places in London. It contains a heart-breaking memorial to heroic men and women of London like Alice Ayres 'daughter of a bricklayer's labourer, who by intrepid conduct saved three children from a burning house in Union Street at the cost of her own young life'. For those who haven't stumbled across it, you can find the entrance on King Edward Street.
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