Shortly before the pandemic locked us all in our homes, the City of London gained a lovely new pocket park very close to St Paul’s Cathedral, and if you’ve not seen it yet, that could be because it’s on a side street that hardly anyone walks down.

The park replaced another park, for cars, that sat next to the 1950s-era office block, Scandinavian House, and used to have a plot of unappealing grass on the top as an excuse for a public park.

Between 2015-18, the old office was demolished and the current office block was built on the site, and where there had been an entrance to a car park has been turned into a delightful pocket park, designed by Tom Stuart-Smith.

Part of the reason for the triangular slice of park being here in this specific location is that the slice taken out of the side of the office building to allow it exists to preserve a line of sight between St Paul’s Cathedral and St Nick’s Church that sits behind the offices.

Although the building’s main address is 2-6 Canon Street, the pocket park is on Distaff Lane, around the back of the offices.

Find the park, and go in through one of the two gates for a delight.

The trees are a mix of different types of birch, and their white barks contrast wonderfully with the greens and greys of the rest of the park. and the trees have been underplanted with a mix of shade and drought tolerant perennials and grasses. There are a number of interweaving paths that subdivide the garden, creating a variety of intimate and more open spaces. A sound lures you to the rear, where a water wall flows over bubbles in the stone.

Plenty of seating fills the spaces, and on my late morning visit, I was the only one in the pocket park, although I am sure it fills up at lunchtime.

An existing sculpture of Icarus by Michael Ayrton that used to be on the old lawn on top of the car park has relocated to the centre of the garden on a raised stone plinth, with a sunken bronze plaque in front that either by design (clever) or accident (whoops) collects a puddle of water and its submerged appearance is quite appealing to me at least.

Somehow, the pocket park manages to feel spacious, and yet also almost overgrown with planting despite the wide-open paths, and in so, it’s become a hidden glade waiting to be discovered. If you’re near St Paul’s, wander over for a look and you’ll be a happier person.

The pocket park is designed to be locked at night, and there’s also another park created by the office block, but that’s on its roof, and not open to the public.

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2 comments
  1. HP says:

    Been visiting this for almost a couple of years now and it is a hidden gem of a park in The City. Just a shame that despite a large bin by the entrance people still leave their rubbish strewn around which has attracted rats…

  2. Chris Rogers says:

    It is nice albeit awkwardly placed. The office building is very good

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