Illustration by Author
We’ve all got a lot of stuff to do - heads to stuff with facts, sinuses to un-stuff. Or maybe you’re a newly elected SU member, rubbing your hands together ready to rid an arguably (everything is always arguable) hegemonic system of its stuffy ways. Regardless, no one wants to end up looking like the bat-sh**, googly-eyed cartoon that’s widely used to advertise sour sweets (see Brain Blasterz or WarHeads for more info, but by god don’t eat). So, here are three of central London’s best secret gardens where you can breathe, relax, unwind and get loose, but not too loose because they’re still public spaces:
St George’s Gardens
Proves little is lovely and still does the job. The quiet garden actually came into fruition as a burial ground in 1713 and – fun fact – is famous for being the site of the first theft of a dead body for dissection in 1777. It’s a really beautiful little enclave, with statues and headstones looking all old and ruinous, One bench has a really good view at sunset, but I forgot which one.
62 Marchmont St, London WC1N 1AB. Nearest station: Russell Square.
This surprise is properly wedged between offices, making it feel like even more of a find. Avoid going at lunchtime though, unless you want to watch people in suits stare into oblivion, chowing down on the cornucopia of sustenance that Pret has to offer. What’s more, in 1900 it became the location for George Frederic Watts's Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, a memorial to ordinary people who died while saving the lives of others. I implore you to follow the loggia wall, and read every single ceramic tablet.
St Martin's Le Grand, London EC1A. Nearest station: St Paul’s.
St Dunstan's in the East
I don’t think any of the parks are as dramatic and Game of Thrones-y as this one. The small space used to be a medieval church, reduced to an empty shell from bombing in the Second World War. Climbing plants now mollycoddle the remains of empty window frames and pointy arches. It’s shady and surreal.
Dunstan's Hill, London EC3R 5DD. Nearest station: Monument.
So go and enjoy! And if you recognize a fellow Courtauld person, even if you once un-plugged their charger in the café, smile and wave because they’ve probably just been staring at paintings that can't do that.