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St Anne's, Limehouse

I often pass St Anne’s, Limehouse when I am coming into town from the East End of London, but what really made it stick out yesterday was the carpet of spring bulbs, daffodils and crocus, that covered the graveyard in front.

However the church itself is pretty interesting in its own right.

For a start it holds the title for being the highest church clock in London and indeed the tallest second highest Gothic-style tower in Britain after Big Ben, yet it is almost 5 miles away from the centre of London and few people even know of its existence.

Built as one of 12 churches known as the Queen Anne Churches, it served the burgeoning yet poorer docklands area, east of London since 1730. Given its proximity to the river Thames, the tower became a Trinity House sea mark on all navigation charts and continues as such to this day. It also became official registry location of all births, marriages and deaths at sea, which may sound strange as one would assume all sailors to be men. But in fact, there were several recorded cases of women who dressed as men to work on ships, hence births did occur.

As a direct result of this, the church has been granted the rare honour of flying a flag called the White Ensign, the second most senior ensign of the Royal Navy 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

But the thing that struck me most on my visit that Sunday morning was the overall sense of being a community church and the welcome that is extended as soon as you walk in, or indeed up the rather steep entrance stairs.

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