Our home, St Anne and St Agnes Church
This stunning Anglican Church is the home of the musical charity the VOCES8 Foundation. The VOCES8 Centre (formerly known as the Gresham Centre) at the church of St Anne & St Agnes is designated a Chapel of Ease to St Vedast alias Foster in nearby Foster Lane. Although there are no regular Sunday services, the church is often open to visitors. In addition we hold some 6 - 8 services a year, often taking the form of Evensong sung by a visiting choir connected to the Foundation, as well as on feast days and festivals.
The church will be open to the public on the first Wednesday of every month from 11:45 until 14:45 thanks to the volunteers of Friends of City Churches.
The church of St Anne and St Agnes has suffered a long, turbulent history of plague, fire and near destruction but has always managed to be renewed and rebuilt. Its first mention in parish records was as early as 1137; its first known priest named Alured. It lays close to Aldersgate and the city wall, the remains of which can still be seen outside the church today; as can 14th Century stonework to the steeple, which remarkably still remains intact despite suffering a major fire in 1548 which burned the church mostly to the ground, then again in the Great Fire of 1666, and bomb damage in World War II.
Its double dedication remains unique among City churches and dates from 1460. The church we see today follows the form of Wren’s post-Great Fire design for a Greek Cross, a square within a square, and boasts a superb acoustic.
Notable connections to the church include the Percys, Earls (and now Dukes) of Northumberland, the most prominent family in the parish during the medieval period; and Sir James Drax (1662) whose bust sits within the church. Famous past parishioners have included the poet John Milton; John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim's Progress; and John Wesley, founder of Methodism, who preached twice at the church in 1738.
The blitz of 1940 left the church with only the shell and tower remaining, and extensive restoration followed using fittings from other city churches.
Following the war, the parish was amalgamated with St Vedast alias Foster and the church was designated a Grade I listed building in 1950. From 1966 St Anne and St Agnes was rededicated and leased for use by the Lutheran congregations where a strong musical tradition developed, notably its Bach Vespers. The VOCES8 Foundation took over the building in June 2013 when it was brought back into the Anglican Foundation.
The Church is now the centre of a busy outreach programme serving the local community; see Events for more info.