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St Dunstan's Church

St Dunstan and All Saints Church in Stepney can be traced back to the Medieval Ages and even after all this time it has retained its appearance as a country village church – with an expansive grassy churchyard all around and ancient gravestones that slope this way and that.

One reason it is so spacious is because of terrible tragedies of the past – so many victims of the plague were buried here that the consecrated grounds needed to be extended.

Stepney High Street leads away towards the River Thames from where bodies of sailors who were drowned at sea were brought here to their final resting place. It was until some decades ago a busy thoroughfare with shops and overcrowded houses, noisy pubs and all the hustle and bustle of life in London.



Those buildings were destroyed in the Blitz, leaving behind flattened spaces that were abandoned and it is now a residential street. All around in this corner of the East End, the bombs and slum clearance made way for modern blocks of flats.

Stepney is so close to the heart of the City of London that it would be possible for a city worker at the Bank of England to take a brisk walk to Stepney in barely half an hour – and to experience the sights and sounds of being deep in the English countryside. Birds sing in the trees and there is the sound of farm animals in the nearby City Farm.

On Sundays, the bells of the church tower ring out, as they have done for hundreds of years, and to this day children sing about the bells of Stepney in the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons about when the three farthings – old English coins – will be paid.

“When will that be?

said the bells of Stepney.”

“I do not know,”

said the great bells of Bow.

Walk from Mile End Park or from Stepney Green Station or from Limehouse Station

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