Remains of an English Third Rate ship of the line, also described as a frigate, which was deliberately beached and burnt on Pett Level, to prevent the French capturing her during the Battle of Beachy Head, 1690.
The Anne was third rate 70-gun ship-of-the-line, built at Chatham Dockyard under the direction of Phineas Pett II, and launched in 1678. She was one of 20 third-rates built on the order of Samuel Pepys as part of a construction program to regenerate the English Navy. The designated Stirling Castle, Restoration and Northumberland are all sisters of the Anne from the same building program.
On 29 July 1690, Anne was part of a combined Anglo Dutch fleet that opposed a superior French force off Beachy Head. The Anne suffered the heaviest damage of any of the English vessels and began to sink. She was taken in tow but was run ashore and then burnt to prevent her becoming a prize. The Anne was then extensively salvaged and all her ordnance recovered.
In 1974, a local contractor began the mechanical excavation and recovery of material from the site. Survey of the site established the potential importance of the wreck and the wreck was designated in June of that year. In 1983 the Nautical Museums Trust Ltd bought the remains of the Anne from the Ministry of Defence and the Warship Anne Trust was formed.
Designation Order: (No 7), No 910, 1974
Made: 23rd May 1974
Laid before Parliament: 30th May 1974
Coming into force: 20th June 1974
Protected area: 75 metres within 50 53.367 N 000 41.767 E
Designation Order: (No 1), No 347, 1992
Made: 24th February 1992
Laid before Parliament: 2nd March 1992
Coming into force: 23rd March 1992
Protected area: 75 metres within 50 53.42 N 000 41.91 E
Designation Order: No 2394, 2009
Made: 2nd September 2009
Laid before Parliament: 3rd September 2009
Coming into force: 25th September 2009
Protected area: 100 metres within 50 53.45 N 000 41.76 E
No part of the restricted area lies above the high-water mark of ordinary spring tides.
The Anne was lost during the war between France and England; two years earlier James II had fled England to be replaced by William of Orange and his wife Mary. He had long been an enemy of Louis XIV and the French King took the opportunity to take up the exiled King's cause.
Her captain, John Tyrrell, in charge of a crew of 460 men, went into battle with the rest of the English and Dutch ships against a superior French fleet on Monday, 30 June 1690. During the Battle of Beachy Head, as it is known, she was badly damaged and subsequently beached at high water so that the crew could walk ashore at low water. The next day she was fired to stop the French capturing her in Rye Bay. According to a contemporary pamphlet - "Saturday 5th July...This afternoon the Anne Frigat was set on fire, we not being able to help her any longer after the French came up with her. She was ashore the day before in Rye Bay, and we have saved most of her trade except her guns which will be taken up again."
Following the major fleet engagement, between the Anglo-Dutch fleet and the French, the allied fleet retired from the Channel towards the Nore. In the action the Anne had been completely dismasted, and to avoid capture she was deliberately run ashore near Rye, Sussex. The French, seeing her plight, sent two fireships inshore to complete her destruction, but Captain Tyrell forestalled them by setting her alight as he left.
The Anne was severely damaged at the time of the Battle of Beachy Head. She was discovered when the vessel was partly dug up with a mechanical excavator in early 1974, prompting a designation order to be rushed through. Survey occurred between 1983 and 1994 to establish extent of the hull.
In 1991, the Archaeological Diving Unit (ADU) visited the site at low water springs. A variety of structural elements were identified including frames, inner and outer planking, with the centre filled with sand. Rising sand levels prevented further observation until a trial excavation occurred in 1997 on behalf of the Warship Anne Trust.
The wreck is usually exposed by tides which are below 0.6m above chart datum (Dover). She lies in sand on a firm clay substrate on top of a prehistoric submerged forest. The lower 2m of the wreck survives comprising a ship-shaped outline of timbers, 43.5m long and protruding about 0.5m above sediments. Visible structural elements include frames, inner and outer planking and possible mast stumps. There is no marine growth on these timbers.
The site is deteriorating with serious degradation of timbers, particularly by marine borers at the bow and along the surviving top of each side. Also at the bow, a frame appears to have come adrift since its treenails were still projecting out of the planking below. Breaking waves twice a day are also responsible for pounding the timbers, and fishing nets have also been found snagged in the planking, pulling plank fastenings loose.
In 2008, English Heritage archaeologists undertook a magnetometer survey over the partially submerged and buried remains of the wreck of the Anne. The survey successfully revealed a distinct area of strong ferrous response delimiting the probable extent of the remnants of the ship as well as providing up-dated GPS coordinates of her location.