In the mid 1970s St Anne’s Limehouse was in danger of being closed and being declared derelict. The building was streaked with nearly 200 years of industrial grime. In 1976, Chris Idle was appointed Rector and soon the building became the centre of a vibrant church community in Limehouse. It was obvious that the extensive repairs needed would be beyond the resources of the local community. In 1978 Care for St Anne’s (CFSA) was formed as a registered charity (reg 288889) to raise money for restoring the building.
When the docks closed, the whole area became run down. The government decided to revive the whole area, forming the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) in 1981. St Anne’s was identified as a building to be restored. For the first time in 200 years, the white Portland stone became visible.
Phase II and III
In 1984 the roof was restored. A new tensile steel roof was built into the present roof structure, which was gently straightened and made stronger. This meant the roof itself and the ceiling did not need to be disturbed. This solution won the John Betjemen prize for restoration. The tower was restored in 1989-1991.
In 1851 the Great Exhibition was held and an organ built by Davison and Gray won first prize (the Council Medal). In 1853 that organ was installed into St Anne’s. It was fully restored to its original glory in 2006, by a combination of CFSA and a bequest to the Pilgrim Trust.
The new east end
The church membership raised over £120,000 to restore and re-order the chancel of the church. This provided a space that can be used for church services and for community projects as today St Anne’s has become the home of Docklands Sinfonia, the UK’s premier amateur orchestra.
Helping us into the future
Most of the church interior could be described as “derelict chic”. It is great for filming gritty dramas but less useful for the church and local community. We have two major ongoing projects. The first is to install a lift for step-free access into the church, and a disabled access toilet. The second is to restore and repair the great East window, a rare Clutterbuck enamelled-glass example. CFSA continues to fund other required works in the building.
We have achieved much with over £5m of restoration completed. About £1m restoration remains to be done as we ensure this building preserves the best of the past, while ensuring that it is usable for the future.
So what can I do?
If you wish to provide a one off gift, please send any contribution to: Care For St Anne’s, 5 Newell St Limehouse London E14 7HP.
If you are a UK tax payer, please fill in the Gift Aid form here. The same form can be used if you wish to become a more regular giver by using the standing order form.