St Anne's was built between 1714-1727, one of the twelve churches built through the 1711 Act of Parliament. The church is named after Queen Anne, who initiated the scheme and raised money for it by imposing a tax on coal coming up the River Thames. The church was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, who was Sir Christopher Wren’s assistant. St Anne’s Church was successfully consecrated in 1730 and still has an active congregation today.

The church was gutted by fire on Good Friday 1850. It was restored between 1851 and 1854 by Philip Hardwick. The roof and tower were restored further in 1983 and 1993, when tubular steel trusses were added to support the roof. The church was Grade I listed in 1950. St Anne's underwent extensive restoration during 1999–2009, which included complete restoration of the churchyard, the organ, and the front end of the church.

St Anne’s Church has a long-standing connection to the Royal Navy. Its clock is the highest church clock in London, and was designed as a special maritime clock for shipping on the Thames: it chimed every 15 minutes to guide the 6000 ships that moored in the docks every day. These days, it chimes every hour. Above the clock, there is a golden ball, which until recently was a Trinity House sea mark for navigating the Thames. The battle ensign of the recently decommissioned HMS Ark Royal is on display inside the church. We were honoured to host HRH Prince Michael of Kent for the laying up ceremony. To find out more about St Anne's Church's connection to the Royal Navy, and about the ensigns, please click here.

From time to time, the church building features in a number of television programmes. In 2012, St Anne's was featured in the BBC series 'Call The Midwife' (Episode 6).

Features of St Anne’s Church

To find out about bells and bell-ringing in St Anne's, please click here.


The pipe organ in St Anne's was designed and built by Messrs John Gray and Frederick Davison. It won the Council Medal (first prize) in the Great Exhibition of 1851 at Crystal Palace. It was fully restored in 2009. In 2009, the church became the main rehearsal venue for the recently formed Docklands Sinfonia Orchestra, and occasionally hosts classical concerts.

The floor is made of Portland Stone, which is the same stone used for the facade of Buckingham Palace. Underneath the stone is the original brickwork from Queen Anne’s time. The aisle is made of Yorkshire stone.

The window at the front of St Anne’s Church is made of enamelled glass rather than stained glass, giving it a glowing effect. It is now in poor condition due to the combined effect of WWII damage, gravity and London pollution. The church plans to restore it as part of an ongoing restoration program.

A distinctive pyramid, originally planned to be put on one of the corners at the east end of the building, now stands in the churchyard and is Grade II listed. The church is next door to Limehouse Town Hall which is now used as a community centre.