St Anne’s, Limehouse

East London

Date of construction: Built in 1727 and consecrated in 1730

Original architect: Nicholas Hawksmoor

Client: Parochial Church Council

St Anne’s Limehouse was one of 12 churches built through the 1711 Act of Parliament. The grade I listed church has one of the most exuberant towers of the Baroque period topped with an octagonal lantern.

Tragically, St Anne’s experienced a major fire in 1850 which destroyed the roof and a large part of the nave. A faithful restoration of Hawksmoor’s interior and the construction of a new timber and cast iron roof structure was carried out between 1851 and 1854 by Philip Hardwick. However, over time the roof trusses had deflected so that when Julian Harrap Architects was appointed to carry out urgent repair and restoration works, the roof structure was in a perilous state.

JHA’s inspired solution was to employ 20th century technology in the form of a new structure comprising four tubular steel trusses and ties to support the elaborate plaster ceiling. This approach ensured that interventions were kept to a minimum as the supplementary, demountable structure was installed through the existing roof space without disturbing the building’s historic fabric or the need for extensive temporary propping.

The existing stone tower was also in a serious state of decay due to the actions of weathering and pollution. Our role was to meticulously repair the structure, which entailed examining and recording the condition of each piece of stone, replacing decayed areas with new sections of masonry, re-bedding of lifted and displaced blocks, and stitching cracks.


  • Winner of the first John Betjeman Memorial Award in 1990

Photographer: TBC