Said to be the oldest building in the whole of Buxton, St Anne’s Church stands as a historic emblem of Britain’s Anglo-Catholic traditional past. Although the year 1625 is engraved in Saxon font on the church porch, the exact year St Anne’s Church dates to remains uncertain, as some sections of the building are estimated to be much older. Having gone through many uses over the years, St Anne’s has been open for divine service since 1885.
Today, visitors can come and marvel at the modest beauty of this one-story place of worship; all the clear-glass windows are square, bar one, which boasts a beautiful stain-glass display of the cross. One of the prominent features of the interior is a 17th century carved oak reading desk, which is worth seeing for its early-modern period craftmanship. A William Wallace memorial tablet decorates the wall. Rectangular in shape, the church is discreetly nestled in Buxton’s town centre; its inconspicuous nature lends it a quaintly atmospheric quality, which, upon entering, evokes a feeling of complete tranquillity.
Given that certain sections of the building appear to be older than 1625, it is assumed that a barn or a tithe occupied the grounds prior and was later incorporated into the construction of St Anne’s Church. St Anne’s was Buxton’s former parochial chapel, and was originally named, and dedicated to, St John the Evangelist. The south-eastern vestry was added to the church in 1715, and the church received further refurbishment and extension work in the years 1841 and 1894.
The church was used extensively throughout the 17th and 18th century, and it is said that the renowned Methodist preacher, Sir John Wesley, delivered a sermon here on the 24th of May 1783.
Famed 18th century actor, John Kane, was buried within the grounds of St Anne’s in 1799, after accidently consuming a poisonous plant in Buxton.
In 1811, the opening of the much grander Parish Church of St John the Baptist in Buxton marginalised St Anne’s, and the church slowly fell into a state of disuse. St Anne’s was thus repurposed several times over the course of the 19th century; firstly, as a school, secondly as a Sunday School, and finally as a mortuary chapel. When exactly it returned to be a place of worship is much contested by different accounts, but according to Derbyshire’s Church of England Registers, it was used in 1895 as a chapel of ease to St John’s, and later rededicated to St Anne.
Since then, St Anne’s has remained in use, and has been kept much the same appearance wise; the only modification being a restoration to the slate roof, which occurred in 1956.
How to Get There
Unfortunately, St Anne’s doesn’t have a carpark nearby, and there is a very low amount of parking available on nearby streets. Luckily, the church isn’t far, and is only a seven-minute walk away from Buxton High Street. The church can be found at the top of Bath Road, and is hidden behind the Swan Pub.
The church is incorporated into several of the Discover Buxton tours, including the Victorian Tram Tour.
Good to Know
In order to guarantee seeing the inside of the church, it would be worth booking onto a tour, such as the Victorian Tram Tour, as the church has been noted to be locked at certain times.
Holy Communion takes place at 8.00am on Sunday mornings, an an informal service takes place at lunchtime on Mondays. Members of the church clergy are also present at the church throughout the week, and visitors are welcome to join in their morning prayers at 9.15am.
Things to See & Do While at St Anne’s Church
The grade-II listed grave of 18th-Century actor John Kane can be found in St Anne’s Churchyard.
Scriveners Book Shop is found just across the road from St Anne’s Church, and is worth visiting not just for the books, but for the gorgeous Victorian building it occupies. As far as second-hand book shops go, Scriveners is huge, and boasts four floors with shelves overflowing with antique books and rarities. This shop also offers book binding services, and features a small museum explaining the history of the building which can be found in the basement.
Positioned directly in front of St Anne’s, The Swan Inn Pub is the perfect venue for a quick respite, offering a wide variety of cask ales and ciders.
St Anne’s Well is also within close locality to St Anne’s Church, being roughly an eight-minute walk away in the direction of Buxton Crescent.