9 “hidden” places in London that Londoners like to keep secret…

14th February 2016

Us Londoners are a secretive bunch, and when we find a new little bit of our FANTASTIC culture, we like to keep it to ourselves (admit it – you do it too…)

How many of these “secret” bits of London do you know… and how many will you be visiting?

1. The Phoenix Garden

The Phoenix Garden, London

Picture credit: Kacper Gunia on Flickr / Creative Commons

Reopening in early 2016 after well-needed building work, this tiny space between Covent Garden and Soho was bombed during the Blitz and used as a car park until 1983, before being turned into an adorable community garden.

More information: thephoenixgarden.org

2. Severndroog Castle

Severndroog Castle, London

Picture credit: stevekeiretsu on Flickr / Creative Commons

A castle *and* some of the best views in London? Don’t mind if we do… For an experience you won’t get at The Shard, head to Shooter’s Hill in the south east of the capital to Severndroog Castle, “London’s Least-Known Castle” according to the Londonist.

More information: severndroogcastle.org.uk

3. Japanese Roof Garden, Brunei Gallery

Japanese Roof Garden at the Brunei gallery, soas, London

Picture credit: B on Flickr / Creative Commons

If you’ve been shoved on the Tube just one time too many today, then take a trip to the Japanese Roof Garden at the Brunei Gallery. The garden is dedicated to forgiveness and it’s available to visit whenever the gallery is open to the public – usually Tuesdays to Saturdays.

More information: soas.ac.uk/visitors/roofgarden

4. The John Snow / Broad Street pump

John Snow's Broad Street Pump, Soho, London

Picture credit: Matt Biddulph on Flickr / Creative Commons

No, not that John Snow, but the one who discovered how cholera is spread through contaminated water, saving countless lives in the process, thanks to his investigations surrounding this very pump in Soho. Thankfully the pump has since been cut off, but you can still visit this little piece of medical history today.

5. Camley Street Natural Park

Camley street nature reserve

Picture credit: Charlotte Gunnell

Thousands of tourists arrive in on the Eurostar each day, unaware that they are stood within yards of this little quiet corner in King’s Cross. And we’d like to keep it that way, thank you.

More information: Visit the WildLondon website here

6. St Bartholomew the Great

four weddings st Bartholomew the great

Picture credits: PolyGram Filmed Entertainment / remittance girl on Flickr

This east-end church’s impressive filming portfolio includes Four Weddings and a Funeral (as the church in the fourth wedding), Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Other Boleyn Girl, Snow White and the Huntsman, Sherlock Holmes (as the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral) and Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, as well as the BBC’s Richard II.

The building still functions as a church and visitors are welcome for a small donation, but if you visit when a service is in progress you won’t be able to go into the main part of the church.

More information: greatstbarts.com

7. The auto-icon of Jeremy Bentham

jeremy bentham auto-icon ucl london

Picture credit: Matt Brown on Flickr / Creative Commons

Yes, that’d be the dead guy in a cabinet, housed in University College London. Philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s last wish was to be put on display after he died, and so it was. While it really is his corpse under those clothes, the story goes that his head was stolen by a rival college and kicked like a football, so that bit is safely hidden away in a vault. But, take it from us, the cabinet is still pretty creepy.

UCL’s buildings are open every day (also check out the Petrie Museum while you’re there for lots of free Egyptian nerdiness) but visit during the week to see the cabinet open.

More information: ucl.ac.uk/museums/jeremy-bentham

8. Clissold Park, zoo and butterfly house

Clissold Park London

Picture credit: Stephen Barber on Flickr / Creative Commons

Despite being in a popular part of north London, Stoke Newington is without a nearby Tube station (the nearest one is Highbury & Islington – a 30-minute walk away) and so its resident bit of green space is largely only populated by friendly locals rather than tourists. There’s a lido, a petting zoo, a butterfly house and a lake all in this large park, with plenty of room to spare for ambling about.

More information: hackney.gov.uk/clissold-park.htm

9. The Savoy Museum

Savoy Hotel London

Picture credit: Nick Garrod on Flickr / Creative Commons

Even if you don’t have the cash to stay at the Savoy Hotel, you can still visit their unusual museum (you’ll still have to look respectable, though). On display are Noel Coward’s lighter and cigarette case and Marlene Dietrich’s guest card, among other artefacts from the Savoy’s history.

More information: Visit the Savoy press website here

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Written by:

Charlotte Gunnell

London blogger at APeaceOfLondon.com on a mission to find chilled-out, cultured and unusual corners of the city. Lover of Lego, loyal bobber and watcher of the odd historical drama.

Follow me on Twitter @apeaceoflondon

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