It’s no secret that I’m a city girl. London, Paris, New York City. I love them all. I love the anonymity. I love that there is always something to do. I love that there is so much going on. I love the different neighborhoods. But even with the hustle and bustle, I still love the quiet.
Don’t get me wrong, I can’t escape a city for too long. Maybe a week or two tops. But stealing away quiet moments throughout my daily routine is what I live for. That’s why I love the fact that cities like London and New York have quiet spots hidden throughout them.
My favourite quiet spots in London are places I visit over and over again. All are close to busy thoroughfares or tourist attractions, perfect for a quick pause or a quiet lunch. They are also all centrally located and fit perfectly into your busy schedules visiting London, either for the first time or your 100th time.
Lincoln’s Inn Fields
Lincoln’s Inn Fields is a favourite spot for LSE students. I spent many breaks between classes there and enjoy going to watch all the dogs run around. The largest public square in London, Lincoln’s Inn Fields is located between High Holborn to the north and Fleet Street and Aldwych Circle to the south. It is surrounded by beautiful, old townhomes that now house LSE buildings, various legal and societal institutions and Sir John Soane’s Museum.
Walk south on Serle Street until you hit the backside of the Royal Courts of Justice and you’ll find the best red telephone booths for your “I’m in London” photoshoot as well as several stores for barristers, including one that sells wigs.
Hidden between Victoria Embankment and Fleet Street, Temple is home to many barristers’ chambers and solicitors’ offices and is the legal heart of London. Temple was originally the precinct of the Knights Templar, whose Temple Church was the source of the name. I was lucky enough to walk through Temple every day I had class when I lived in London and I was so happy to return on my recent trip there this fall.
Walk north from the grand entrance facing the Thames and you’ll be greeted by wonky facades and beautiful, old buildings. Turn left at the stairs and you’ll find a beautiful courtyard facing Middle Temple Hall (closed to the public), some peaceful benches and a small fountain. Keep an eye out for fast moving clerks wheeling suitcases full of paper or barristers wearing wigs (yes, it’s still a thing). If you walk north, you’ll find yourself in a quiet alley with a pub that will spit you out right on Fleet Street next to Twinings Tea.
Most likely known for its Instagram fame, St. Dunstan-in-the-East is a church located on St. Dunstan’s hill about halfway between the Tower of London and London Bridge and built in about 1100. However, unlike most churches, St. Dunstan-in-the-East was bombed during the 1941 blitz in World War II. In 1967, it was permanently turned into a public garden.
Walk hike up the hill to be greeted with a quiet spot for thinking, not to mention a beautiful spot for photography.
Victoria Tower Gardens
Tucked just behind Parliament, Victoria Tower Gardens seems rarely visited by tourists who are just interested in seeing Big Ben or Westminster Abbey. Victoria Tower Gardens stretches from Parliament to Lambeth Bridge and includes a cast of Rodin’s Burghers of Calais, a statue of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, and a beautiful fountain. If you have children, there is a cute little playground in the park right by Lambeth Bridge.
I love going to Victoria Tower Gardens for a different view of Parliament and, if you’re looking for a less crowded view of the Thames, Parliament and the Eye, walk across Lambeth Bridge.
Christ Church Greyfriars
Another bombed out church turned into a public garden, Christ Church Greyfriars is another peaceful spot in the middle of a bustling city. It was built in the 13th century, destroyed in the Great Fire and rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren and is located just behind St. Paul’s Cathedral on Newgate Street.
Opened in 1880, Postman’s Park gets its name from the former headquarters of the General Post Office. In 1900, the park became the location for George Frederic Watts’s Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, a memorial dedicated to otherwise ordinary people who died while saving lives. Located just north of Christ Church Greyfriars, Postman’s Park makes a perfect stop for not only a quiet respite from The City but also a hidden gem of London.
What’s your favourite quiet spot in central London?