Hidden behind a blue door just off Cheapside lies one of London’s most charming little pocket parks. As with many of the City’s church parks, it’s a former graveyard, although you’d never know to look at it.
It’s a fairly small square with planting along the sides and a modest tree in the middle. The stone flooring is probably a necessity to cope with too many trampling feet.
What’s rather nice though are the buildings that surround it, with old brick walls on two sides, the church hall behind, and above the covered arcade, whitewashed residences with all the appearance of a coastal retreat.
The residential buildings are in fact modern, as the building used to be an old pub, but was hit by bombs during WW2, and the church bought the land for the new Rectory. And that’s when the gardens were laid out as well.
There’s also a plaque on a wall of a roman floor that was uncovered when the nearby St Matthew Friday Street was demolished in 1886.
A number of commemorative plaques are set into the walls and there’s also a small relief sculpture of Canon Mortlock, by Jacob Epstein.
Probably the oldest thing in the garden isn’t marked out as such, but if you look around you might see an anonymous-looking brown stone in the wall. It’s actually taken from a 9th century BC Zigurrat in modern Iraq and is inscribed with cuneiform writing.
It was presented to Canon Mortlock, marking his work with novelist Agatha Christie and her husband, archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan and was found during his 1950-65 dig on the site. The lump of stone (actually baked brick) bears the name of Shalmaneser who reigned from 858 to 834 BC.
Until recently, while the blue door was often open during the week, it wasn’t obvious that it was for the public to pass through, but there’s now a sign hanging outside to lure passersby inside.
The door is open whenever the church next door is open, which is currently Mon-Sat.