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Hawksmoor’s St Anne’s Church in Limehouse on ‘Heritage at Risk’ register

PUBLISHED: 00:01 26 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:49 01 November 2017

Hawksmoor's beautiful baroque interior at St Anne's historic church in Limehouse. Picture: Steve Cadman/Heritage England

Hawksmoor's beautiful baroque interior at St Anne's historic church in Limehouse. Picture: Steve Cadman/Heritage England

Steve Cadman

Hawksmoor’s historic St Anne’s parish church at Limehouse is one of three sites in east London declared in danger of being lost to future generations.

St Anne's at Limehouse with its Trinity House maritme mark for Thames shipping and flying the White Ensign. Picture: Sandra Rowse St Anne's at Limehouse with its Trinity House maritme mark for Thames shipping and flying the White Ensign. Picture: Sandra Rowse

The unique 300-year-old baroque church has been put on the ‘Heritage at Risk’ register, along with William Armstrong’s 1879 accumulator chimney stack at Limehouse Basin nearby and part of the 1905 Alice Billings House at Stratford.

They are among 45 sites added to the register today by Historic England.

“If these are lost, then part of our city’s story is lost too,” the heritage organisation’s Liz Whitbourn said. “We found two years ago that 80 per cent of the country’s ‘commemorative monuments at risk’ were in London.”

St Anne’s in Commercial Road, completed in 1730 by Britain’s leading architect of the day, Nicholas Hawksmoor, was named after Queen Anne who raised the money to build 12 London churches from a tax on coal coming up the Thames.

William Armstrong's 1869 octagonal Accumulator tower and chimney stack in Limehouse next to Blackwall railway viaduct, with St Anne's Church seen behind. Picture: Heritage England William Armstrong's 1869 octagonal Accumulator tower and chimney stack in Limehouse next to Blackwall railway viaduct, with St Anne's Church seen behind. Picture: Heritage England

The golden ball at the top of the steeple was a maritime marker for navigating the Thames while its clock, the highest on a church in London, chimed every quarter-hour to guide shipping.

It was one of three churches in the East End designed by Hawksmoor, along with St George’s-in-the-East at Shadwell and Christ Church Spitalfields.

Nearby is a unique octagonal Accumulator tower and chimney stack next to the old Blackwall railway viaduct, now carrying the DLR, built in 1869 now in danger from water damage and weeds.

It was built by hydraulic crane inventor William Armstrong as one of three that were connected to a high-pressure water pumping station feeding hydraulic mains that powered Regent’s Canal Dock cranes.

Two towers 300 years apart... Canary Wharf on the left and Hawksmoor's St Anne's Church at Limehouse in front. Picture: Mike Wells Two towers 300 years apart... Canary Wharf on the left and Hawksmoor's St Anne's Church at Limehouse in front. Picture: Mike Wells

The north block of Alice Billings House in Stratford, commemorating a famous Victorian sanitary inspector, is also being added to the list. It was built originally as accommodation for firemen for the West Ham Fire Brigade, but has been empty for 30 years and is deteriorating.

Some 45 sites have been added to the ‘danger’ list across London and the South East, including 12 places of worship like St Anne’s.

Heritage England is working with owners, volunteers and funding organisations to help safeguard historic sites for future generations.

But there are some places that have been removed from the Risk register, like the restored Grade II-listed Griffin pub in Shoreditch, built in 1889 with its glazed tiling and Victorian iron columns.

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