Fancy changing up your Sunday stroll? We’ve got the perfect spot for you… Beautiful? Check. Tree lined? Check. Peaceful? Check. In East Ham? Check. Slightly spooky, what with it being Halloween and all…? CHECK!
St. Mary Magdalene’s church and Nature Reserve sits quietly at the foot of East Ham, minding its own business and not making a fuss. You would be forgiven for walking past it and not even noticing it, given that it is set back from the road underneath the A13, but boy, are you missing out because this place is massive, and massively under rated.
An Insta-worthy old building and a beautiful Nature Reserve
The church itself is Norman, built circa 1130 (!!!) and is Grade 1 listed, we’ll have you know. It is a majestic building worthy of a feature on your Instagram feed. Inside it is equally interesting (and if you go on Halloween, a bit creepy. Any other time of the year, replace creepy with serene or peaceful please), full of both nationally significant and locally significant historic monuments including one dedicated to The Burges family, who owned the land the church is built on and granted the church permission to extend their existing plot. This extension became the Nature reserve as it exists today…
Wait, what? East Ham has a nature reserve??
Yep, it’s true. Through a thicket at the edge of the main Graveyard is 9.5 acres of ancient trees, wildflowers, blackberry bushes and meandering nature trails that has been protected since 1977. It’s open every day until 7.30pm (no dogs I am afraid) for you to explore far and wide (or at least as far as the A13 anyway) and is full of exciting beasties like Bee’s, Butterflies and Slow Worms Here is a handy map in case you need it for important explorer business.
Green fingered activities
If you are green fingered or would like to learn, there are sessions are run by Newham Green Gym every week (Wednesdays 10am – 1pm or the last Saturday of the month 10am – 1pm) where you can help look after the woodland while learning the mystical arts (well, mystical to Londoners anyway) of pruning, tree planting or coppicing. Alternatively on the 3rd Saturday of each month, there is a more family friendly ‘Go wild session‘ where you can all ‘get back to nature’ together, exploring and learning about the woodland.
So there you have it – The East Blam Halloween Special.
Don’t ONLY go on halloween though! You should come every darn weekend to be one with nature, have a nosy at East Ham’s wild life and hang out somewhere beautiful and green.
What: An old church, and graveyard which turns into a nature reserve and runs outdoors activities for you and your family.
Where: East Ham Nature Reserve, Norman Road, London E6 6HN, open every day from 8.00am – 7.30pm. The nearest tube station is Beckton DLR, or you can jump on Buses 101, 104, 300, 474.
£££: Totes free.