St Anne’s Limehouse

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A few miles further east from St George’s in the East is another Hawksmoor church, St Anne’s Limehouse which was built between 1714 and1727 and consecrated in 1730. It’s next door to Limehouse town hall, which we visited over 20 years ago when it housed the Labour History Museum (since relocated to Manchester and re-invented as the People’s History Museum). at that time I wasn’t particularly interested in architecture so never paid any notice to the church next door. The Dockland’s Light Railway runs right past the churche’s southern boundary and I couldn’t help but notice it when returning from Greenwich after visiting the Cutty Sark last August.

It many ways St Anne’s is quite similar to St George’s with a distinctive octagonal tower

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Although the corner towers are more conventional than those on St George’s.

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Other than the tower, which has some Corinthian columns and pilasters the exterior of the church isn’t particularly heavily ornamented. The walls at the side and back are relatively plain.

We would have liked to get a closer view and look around the grounds. But all the gates to the churchyard were firmly padlocked and there didn’t seem to be any way to gain access. Which was a real pity and we were rather disappointed.

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The church is not far from the Thames and the tower can be seen from the river so it became a landmark for every ship entering the Pool of London. The clock, which is the highest church clock in London, was intended to be seen by the seafarers. There’s a connection with the Royal Navy and flies the White Ensign at the top of the tower and above that there’s a golden ball, which until recently was a Trinity House sea mark for navigating the Thames.

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The clockface itself is quite distinctive and, I thought, attractive.

There’s a lithograph by John Piper of St Annes from 1964 from his ‘A Retrospective of Churches’ of which the Tate have a copy.

John Piper, ‘20. St Anne's, Limehouse, London: by Nicholas Hawksmoor’ 1964

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4 thoughts on “St Anne’s Limehouse

  1. You have really pushed the east London boundaries with your latest ‘church crawl’ and found some real gems. Such a pity you were not allowed to get a closer look at the building and churchyard.

  2. Thanks Barbara. I don’t know why the yard was locked but there were some worker’s vans inside. Perhaps they are undertaking restoration work. But I still don’t understand why access to the churchyard was barred. One more church visit to write up and one more Hawksmoor church to go next time I’m down there

  3. I do regular tours around the area – St Anne’s Churchyard is closed to the public most of the time due to suffering vandalism and anti social behaviour – litter causing rats, flytipping, urination, shit, trampling the flowers & bulbs, drinkers shouting abuse at visitors. I’ve seen it myself a few years ago and big enough to give people a slap but some people get intimidated by this behaviour. Sunday is the best day for access when there are services taking place.Occasionally TV crews use it for filming and have to coax away the piss-heads with a crate of cider!

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