The church displays several typical apects of Hawksmoor’s Baroque style – its monumental size, the contrasts of light and shade, the oversized classical elements and the eclectic creativity of its tower. The early eighteenth century was a time of intense interest in early church history and several aspects of the design reflect his awareness of Roman and Byzantine precedents, for example the church’s detached position within a sacred enclosure, its generous allocation of space to porches, narthex and preparatory rooms at the west end and its two vestries at the east. The church’s unusually precise orientation (only 1° from true East) probably reflects the influence of the scientist Edmund Halley, who was a member of the commissioning body at exactly the same time as he was developing a declination-corrected magnetic compass. Characteristically the architect made several design revisions during the construction of St Anne’s, and the mysterious pyramid in the churchyard may be a by-product of his earlier proposal for the towers at the east end.
Hawksmoor’s churches were unlike anything that came before or after. In the words of Sir John Summerson they challenge us ‘not only by their departure from Wren’s classic models but by a sense of power, of the sheer grandeur of hewn masonry, of primitive form brought into the service of religion’.