++ To my Friend Martina Mihalciakova Melkonian ++
The original church was built around 1100 in the gothic style, but was severely damaged in the Great Fire of London. Rather than being completely rebuilt, the damaged church was patched up and a steeple, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, added. This was unusual in that Wren designed it in the gothic style to match the old church. There is a story that during a storm someone once hurried to tell Wren that all of his steeples had been damaged. ‘Not St. Dunstan’s,’ he replied confidently. However, by the early 19th century the church was in a very poor state and was rebuilt by David Laing, with assistance by William Tite. Wren’s steeple was retained in the new building.
The church was severely damaged in the Blitz of 1941. Wren’s tower and steeple survived the bombs intact. Of the rest of the church only the north and south walls remained. In the re-organisation of the Anglican Church in London following the War it was decided not to rebuild St Dunstan’s, and in 1967 the City of London Corporation decided to turn the ruins of the church into a public garden, which opened in 1971. A lawn and trees were planted in the ruins, with a low fountain in the middle of the nave. The tower now houses the All Hallows House Foundation.
The parish is now combined with the Benefice of All Hallows by the Tower and occasional open-air services are held in the church, such as on Palm Sunday prior to a procession to All Hallows by the Tower along St Dunstan’s Hill and Great Tower Street. The ruin was designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January 1950.