Whenever I study abroad I always try to find time to take a tour of the area’s architecture to see whatever is unusual or striking. If you choose Spitalfields for your student housing, London’s most unique monuments and buildings will be virtually on your doorstep.
Spitalfields is on the eastern side of the city centre so you don’t have to go far to see some of the best examples of the unique from all periods of history. You might feel that you are living in the heart of the most modern part of London, but you will be delightfully surprised by some of the unexpected historic treasures that hide in between the cutting edge towers.
Masonic Temple, Andaz Liverpool Street
The Masonic Temple is just a short walk from your Spitalfields student housing. London was home to a very wealthy Masonic group who, in 1912, commissioned the great architect Charles Barry (famous for the Houses of Parliament) to build them a temple that cost £50,000 (the equivalent of £4,000,000 today).
Its Doric-style columns give it the appearance of an ancient Greek temple, and inside there are four different types of Italian marble. The Masons are a highly secret society so it’s rather appropriate that the structure was only rediscovered decades after it was boarded up in World War II. This is one of London’s truly forgotten secrets!
Today the building functions as a hotel, and if you want to explore the interior then the best way is to book tickets to one of the events that take place throughout the year. These range from Open House weekends to pop-up opera performances to public dinners.
- Distance from Chapter Spitalfields: 6 minutes on foot
- Nearest Tube Station: Liverpool Street
- Entrance on Bishopsgate, EC2M 7QN
St Dunstan’s in the East
St Dunstan’s in the East is a spot of tranquillity and peace at the heart of the city. If you are looking for a truly unique feature or a place to catch your breath round the corner from your student housing, London’s only secret garden is the place for you.
The church was founded in the Middle Ages and a new tower was added by Sir Christopher Wren in the seventeenth century. It was bombed in the World War II so all that remains standing is the tower and the ruins of the exterior walls. However the local government created a thriving garden amongst the ruins where visitors can enjoy a space that is full of history and greenery.
- Distance from Chapter Spitalfields: 15 minutes on foot
- Nearest Tube Station: Monument
- Opening hours: Daily from 8am to dusk
- Free Entrance on Idol Lane or St Dunstan’s Hill.
- More information: City of London website
Wilton Music Hall, Whitechapel
You might want to take a bus to this building as it is a little further away from your student housing. London’s oldest music hall (in fact it’s the world’s oldest surviving music hall) is definitely worth the 15-minute ride.
This is where the cancan was first performed and then immediately banned. You’ll encounter a very different atmosphere here than in the more respectable Royal Albert Hall. The building is over 300 years old and has been a Methodist meeting space, a public bar, a derelict warehouse and a living theatre.
I have been to a few performances here – there are concerts and plays to choose from. You can also experience the atmosphere simply by grabbing a bite to eat in the Mahogany Bar. They serve delicious stone-baked pizzas and other more seasonal dishes.
- Distance from Chapter Spitalfields: 20 minutes on foot or 15 minutes by bus (Routes 67 and 100)
- Nearest Tube Station: Tower Hill
- Entrance: 1 Graces Alley, E1 8JB (pedestrian access only)
- For events and opening hours see the Wilton Hall website.
If you like the sound of living close to some of London’s most unusual monuments while you are studying here, then get in touch with us. We have a range of accommodation options that will suit your needs, and our knowledgeable team can point you in the right direction for the best sights nearby.