Editor of I Love London Town Rachel Claire lets us in on her favourite secret places in London.
1. Abney Park Cemetery
‘Ever watched that dark, spooky Tim Burton film ‘[insert any Tim Burton film title here]’ and wished you could hang out on the set? Abney Cemetery in Stoke Newington is here to help. It’s what happens when you fill a mini forest with huge, gothic graves, then stick an old ruined chapel in the centre, just for laughs. It’s other-worldly and hauntingly beautiful. Go get lost in there for hours. Warning: May cause you to back-comb your hair, wear scissors on your hands and go around trimming bushes into weird shapes. No big deal.’ N16 0LH
2. Merci Marie
‘One of the best meals I’ve ever eaten in London involved me shimmying two flights of stairs up a metal fire escape before sitting under origami cranes in what was once a run-of-the-mill office building. Yes, it’s in Dalston and it’s called Merci Marie. The food is freakin’ mind-blowing. Eight-hour cooked veal this, slow-roasted lamb shank that. It’s all cheffed up by one French foodie, Marie, who likes to casually knit between cooking, too. This makeshift little restaurant is all mismatched furniture, old TVs and light-up globes. Oh, and as if it couldn’t get any better, it’s BYOB. Sacre bleu!’
‘If you wander East along the canal you’ll eventually reach Crate Brewery in Hackney Wick. It’s an old factory with awesome interiors that serves its own lovingly brewed craft beers. It offers handmade pizzas to soak up the booze – the sage and truffle one is awesome. It also has a wicked canalside yard with little boats you can float in on a sunny day. This is where I had my first date with Tom; the other half of I Love London Town. Sometimes I think the only reason he laughed at my jokes was due to the 6.2 percent IPA. We ended the evening by downing prosecco because Crate doesn’t sell shots. We love Crate.’
4. Netil Market
‘Welcome to Netil Market, where the phrase “size doesn’t matter, it’s what you do with it” really does apply. It’s less “six bananas for a paaand”, more independent start-ups and some of London’s most-loved street food stalls, as voted for by you lot. Expect home-brewing kits from Plato, handmade jewellery from WeAreArrow, awesome homewares from the Earl of East London and (your friend and mine) The General’s Barbershop where you can get your beard trimmed while enjoying a beer, for a tenner.’
5. St Dunstan in the East
‘If you told any Londoner to take some precious chill-time in Bank, they’d probably laugh in your face. What they might not realise is that, tucked away down a little side street lies the roofless carcass of St. Dunstan’s. This church was badly bombed and ruined during World War II and is now overrun with well-maintained plants, flowers and trees. It’s eerily beautiful, especially at weekends when the city falls deathly silent.’ St Dunstan’s Hill, EC4
Follow Rachel on Twitter @Ilovelondontown. Find more secret spots: Andrea Klettner chooses her five secret London spots.