City of London Tree & Garden Trail

  • Trails /
  • Reader's Trail


About Festival Garden: These gardens surround the magnificent St Paul's Cathedral in the heart of the City. They include the nearby Queen's Diamond Jubilee Garden and Carter Lane Garden.

History: Festival Gardens was created in 1951 by Sir Albert Richardson as part of the City of London Corporation's contribution to the Festival of Britain. The immediate area surrounding St Paul's was originally a confined network streets much like elsewhere in the City. As a result of damage and redevelopment following the war the surrounding area was opened up with the original layout of the roads and buildings influencing the layout of the garden you see today.

The formal layout of the garden features a sunken lawn with wall fountain, which was a gift of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners. The west of the garden features the sculpture 'The Young Lovers' by Georg Ehrlich which was erected in 1973. Festival Gardens was once the site of Cordwainers Hall, home to the shoemakers that practiced their trade in the City. Several halls were destroyed and rebuilt over time with the last one destroyed at this site during the Blitz in 1941.

About Cleary Garden: Separated into three tiers, the garden’s wooden arbours, shaded seats and large lawn (which covers the site of a Roman bathhouse) make it the ideal spot for a time-out.

History: During the Middle Ages the area was the hub of the wine trade, a tradition evoked by sensory flowers, shrubs and climbers, suggesting bouquets of wines, and a miniature vineyard on the terrace.

The garden is named after Fred Cleary, who, during the 1970's was instrumental in encouraging the planting of trees and the creation of new gardens throughout the square mile. During the blitz, the house which once stood here was destroyed exposing the cellars. A shoemaker called Joe Brandis decided that he would create a garden from the rubble, collecting mud from the river banks and transporting soil from his own garden in Walthamstow to the site. His success was such that on 29th July 1949 Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother visited the new garden.

Next to the pergola is a bed of Yatsuka Tree peonies, presented to the City by the Japanese Island of Daikonjima as a symbol of goodwill in April 2006.

Biodiversity: The garden is designated a Site of Local Importance for Nature Conservation. House Sparrows and blue tits nest in the buddleia which has colonised the walled off enclosure on the upper level, and greenfinches, robins, blackbirds and dunnocks are frequently spotted in the garden. Keep an eye out for wisteria, grape-vines and roses on the pergola, the insect hotel at the bottom of the garden, and trailing bellflower, creeping buttercup and thyme-leaved speedwell on the Roman remains.

About Postman Park: Home of The Watts Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice by George Frederick Watts built in 1900. A shady garden which provides an attractive alternative to the busy City streets with a pathway weaving through the garden from east to west. Take a seat on one of the many benches that surrounds the seasonal bedding display that features as a centrepiece to the garden.

History: This scenic park acquired its name due to its popularity as a lunchtime garden with workers from the nearby old General Post Office. It is home to the famous Watts memorial, built in 1900 by Victorian painter and philanthropist GF Watts (1817-1904).

Watts was a radical socialist with strong sympathies towards the dreadful living conditions of the urban poor. In 1887, he wrote to the Times proposing a park commemorating 'heroic men and women' who had given their lives attempting to save others. He felt it would be a worthy way to mark Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee year. This eventually took the form of the Watts gallery in Postman's Park.

Along the walls of the gallery, Watts placed glazed Doulton tablets commemorating acts of bravery. Each one details the nature of the heroic act and the tragic tales documented on the tiles are touching. They often involve children and or concern fire, drowning or train accidents.

The garden also features an attractive sundial surrounded by bright flower beds and a gently trickling fountain. Plants of particular interest are the large banana, musa basjoo, which flowers in late summer, and the dove tree davidia involucrata.

Postman's Park came to increased public notice in 2004 with the release of the BAFTA- and Golden Globe-winning film, Closer. The film features Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts, Jude Law and Clive Owen, and is based on the 1997 play Closer by Patrick Marber. A key plot element in the film revolves around Postman's Park. It is revealed that the character Alice Ayres (Natalie Portman) has in fact fabricated her identity based on Ayres' tablet on the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice. She had read at the time of her first meeting with Dan Woolf (Jude Law) at the start of the film.

HistoryThe Church of St Dunstan was originally built around 1100 and is a Grade I listed buildin


Assuming a constant pace and no stops, typically it will take 2 hours 20 minutes to walk the distance and along the way 624 calories will be burnt.

Bird's Eye View

Edit the Trail

You will need the email address and password when the trail was created or last updated.