St Dunstan in the East

St Dunstan Gardens

View through stone arches to the garden seating area at St Dunstan in the East

Plaque describing St Dunstan

Plaque describing St Dunstan in the East

Edmonton Camera Club have arranged a visit to St Dunstan in the East but I have the privilege of being invited to a cousin’s wedding (well, cousin once removed). Although I can’t be there it did remind me of a visit I made a couple of years ago and sent me scrabbling back into LR to find the pictures. Skills develop over time and some of the pictures here of St Dunstan have been re-edited for this page. Some haven’t seen the light of day before. I thought I’d re-live my visit and what I was trying to achieve through this page.

Tower of St Dunstan in the East

View looking upwards at the tower of the ruined church St Dunstan in the East

St Dunstan in the East is a ruined church on St Dunstan’s Hill London EC3, close to Monument. There has been a church on the site since around 1100 with additions in the 14th Century. Repairs made in 1631 lasted only until 1666 when the building was severely damaged during the Great Fire of London. It was patched up and given a new tower by Sir Christopher Wren between 1695 and 1701. 

St Dunstan suffered bomb damage in 1941 but was not rebuilt by the Anglican Church after the second world war.  The only remaining part of Wren’s church is the tower. It was opened as a garden in 1970 and improved in 2015. The remaining buildings and the people it attracts are a great source of interest for anyone carrying a camera. I just hope that a blog page like this counts as personal use of the pictures.

All of the pictures are clickable for larger versions

St Dunston in the East

Stylised view of St Dunstan emphasising light through the ruined window

Favourite Views of St Dunstan

My favourite picture shows the long sweep of the retaining wall a couple of buttresses in the foreground and 3 arched windows. I recall having to position the tripod very precariously to take this which was a longish exposure in the dark conditions. Processing was supposed to take out most of the colour but leave the greenery as stops on the journey of following the curve. The leafy branches were supposed stop the viewer going any further and falling out of the picture. The darkened area within the curve actually hides a park bench which, however useful, didn’t seem add anything to the picture. The shadows are a much better option.

St Dunstan antique view of ruined wall

View from what would have been the outside of St Dunstan in the East before bomb damage in the second world war

A camera club judge suggested that the cobble stones in the foreground looked a bit like skulls ( a happy accident – wish I had though of it because I might have introduced some) but still only awarded 17 points out of 20.

The second picture is from the other direction and more traditionally antique and gothy (well, it’s supposed to be). I’ve left the park bench in plain view but somehow it doesn’t look so out of place here. The bough coming in from the left is an absolute gift although it would have been nice to find an angle where it could be seen from the base. The branches above make a great canopy roof.

Lunch in the gardens of St Dunstan

View of three office workers taking their lunch break in the Gardens of St Dunstan in the East

St Dunstan Garden Visitors

A significant benefit for the photographer is that there is a pleasant sitting area which attracts other visitors. It’s the kind of place where the patient observer can see all human life pass by. I’m both bad at and not attracted to “street” photography but when this kind of opportunity presents it would be churlish to say no.

Having three of anything tends to be interesting (ask a camera club judge) and here were have multiple sets. I think I was first attracted to the bags and how the position and style of each one relates to its owner. Would it fair to start attributing adjectives such as soft and comfortable, hard and edgy or stylish and complicated? There are three plastic containers and each person has a pair of glasses, although one of them has two pairs. Which of them is emulating the other? Although they arrived as a party is any of them actually listening to the others?

The last couple of pictures aim to provide further evidence of the feel of St Dunstan and the setting. The Shard is clearly visible from one of the stone window arches. This picture is deliberately given a fairy-tale look.

View of The Shard from St Dunstan

View of The Shard from St Dunstan

It reminded me of pictures from my Richard Greene Robin Hood annual from the early 1960s. I recall that the pictures were taken from stills of the film (it must have been before wide use of video tape) with over-saturated colours and a painterly feel. It also has nice patterns and the deliberate inclusion of a shirtless visitor.

A trip to St Dunstan in the East an interesting experience and if you turn up with a camera there is a lot to do. Time will fly by. Do you have your own experience of the place?

Thanks for looking.

St Dunstan Stone Arches

Study of the stone arches which would have been church windows before war damage at St Dunstan


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