Not far from the London Jewellery School is one of London’s newest and most amazing attractions, which in my view as a life-long Londoner, is now a ‘must see’ for any visitor to the capital. The Shard is the only place offering a higher view over London, but the Sky Garden’s got one thing going for it that the Shard doesn’t: it’s free to enter. All you have to do is book a time slot online.
Crowning one of London’s newest skyscrapers, which has become locally known as the ‘walkie talkie building’, The Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street is the highest public garden in the UK and offers spectacular views over the city of London and beyond.
It’s an airy, light and (very effectively) air-conditioned space with modest planting flanking the staircases on either side. It features a bar with large seating area, which is overlooked by a restaurant that hangs high above, and thanks to the timed-ticketing system the Sky Garden doesn’t feel too crowded.
On a clear enough day you can see everything from the famous Tower of London, which is at the centre of the oldest part of London and a stone’s throw away from Fenchurch street, all the way out to the leafy extremities of greater London’s suburbs.
Step out onto the spacious viewing platform and you get a panoramic view of the majestic river thames as it winds and bends its way below and away to the east and west, with grand old Tower Bridge standing proud off to your left and one of London’s youngest bridges, the Millennium bridge, further off to the right.
London’s tallest building, The Shard, stands directly across the river and is the only thing you still have to look up to (just slightly, anyway). One of the most spectacular, beautiful and inspiring buildings in London for anyone of an artistic or creative bent to stroll around inside of is St Paul’s cathedral, but from high up in the Sky Garden you can take in as one the equally beautiful exterior of St Paul’s with that iconic dome. This allows you the opportunity to gain a unique sense of the relationship this architectural work of art has with its surroundings and in particular the river Thames.
From the opposite side of the viewing platform can be seen another of London’s iconic modern skyscrapers, and one of my favourites, ‘The Gherkin’. To the east can be seen the Olympic Stadium and the tri-towers of the UK’s modern financial hub, Canary Wharf.
So when you’re visiting us for a class, I highly recommend booking a visit to the Sky Garden (you need to book in advance and have to bring photo ID). There’s something centering and inspiring about looking down on one of the world’s most vibrant cities from above and watching the life within it pass by in all its spontaneously ordered glory.