East London is a veritable wonderland of adventure and amazement, always offering new places to visit, different ways to eat and fresh craft beers to drink. You’ve eaten the famous Brick Lane beigels/bagels, danced at Dalston Superstore and bought flowers from Columbia Road Market, and now you’re looking for something a bit more under the radar.
Believe it or not there are some places the hipsters and city workers haven’t yet discovered.
We reveal some of the most secret, lesser known places in East London.
Come on down to Hackney and see the country’s only curiosity museum. Opened by the creepy art collective The Last Tuesday Society, this museum is a capsule of everything weird and wonderful, steeped in Victorian style.
If all the gilded skulls and taxidermy get too much, take in a drink in the adjoining cocktail bar and have a nibble on something from the edible insects platter.
Admission to the Bar & Galleries is free, to the Wunderkabinett it’s just £5, including a guide book and a cup of tea.
Nestled half way between London Bridge and the Tower of London lies the ruins of St Dunstan’s in the East. Originally built in 1100, this former Church of England building was severely damaged in 1666 but patched up in 1695-1701 with the addition of a tower and steeple by St Paul’s Cathedral architect Sir Christopher Wren.
Sadly in 1941, the church was yet again severely damaged by the Blitz in 1941. This time, no repairs or rebuilds were made, but in 1967, the ruins were turned into a public garden, opening in 1970.
This secluded city garden has an ethereal feeling with lush plants, flowers and vines reclaiming the majestic arched ruins. The juxtaposition of manmade stonework with plant life makes it a favourite of photographers and filmmakers. The garden is also available for event hires such as receptions, wedding photography and charity events.
Jotted around East London are some ATMs with a rather unexpected language option: Cockney! The traditional rhyming slang of those ‘born within the sound of Bow Bells’ is presented to you on these ATM screens. Some of the Cockney options will have you scratching ‘’your loaf’ but it’s all good fun, and you can return to standard English at any time.
Bang in the middle of Homerton isn’t the sort of place you’d expect to find a Grade II listed Tudor mansion, but that’s exactly what Sutton House is.
Originally known as ‘Bryck Place’, Sutton House was built in 1535 by Sir Ralph Sadler, Principal Secretary of State to Henry VIII, and is the oldest residential building in Hackney.
The quirky thing about this beautifully maintained building is the squatters’ art left when the house was abandoned in the 1980s.
Since a successful Save Sutton House campaign, itself followed by renovations and restorations, the grand building has been open to the public since 1994 as a museum, a cafe, an art gallery and a book / gift shop.
In central Whitechapel, Genesis Cinema is a real gem of entertainment. This old-school local cinema has had a recent renovation and features five screens with Screen 1 being the largest. The cinema’s relaxed atmosphere combines with older locals having a coffee social and creative young-professionals tapping away on their laptops at the Grindhouse café.
Amazing interiors aside, the reasonable ticket prices are another feature that attracts many. And to finish it all off, there is an excellent Bar Paragon upstairs selling delicious cocktails and a traditional Cockney pie and mash kiosk.
Dalston Roof Park is an urban oasis overlooking Hackney’s skyline. As Dalston’s only rooftop garden it’s an ideal place to relax, eat, drink, dance and see the London landscape from a different angle.
The Roof Park often has music events and gigs and is a perfect space to enjoy a few beers with friends when the sun is out. And if that’s not good enough, all profits go towards charitable aims.