Location: Pett Level, near Cliff End, Rye Bay, East Sussex
Age / period: post medieval (1678-1690)
List entry number: 1000060
Wreck history and loss
The Anne was a third rate, 70-gun ship-of-the-line, built at Chatham Dockyard in 1678 on the instruction of Charles II and under the direction of Phineas Pett II. Anne was constructed alongside the Restoration, Stirling Castle and Northumberland as part of the late 17th century restoration of the English Navy, overseen by Samuel Pepys.
Moored in the River Medway until 1687, she was then employed for a diplomatic mission to Portugal, returning via North Africa, Malta and Italy. In 1690 Anne was part of a combined Anglo-Dutch fleet defending England from a superior French force in the Battle of Beachy Head.
The ship was seriously damaged by the French and began to sink. She was run ashore and two days later her captain deliberately burnt her to prevent her from becoming a prize. Later on she was extensively salvaged and her ordnance recovered.
Discovery and investigation
The ship still lies where she beached on the intertidal shore off Pett Level and is visible at low tide. Because she sank quickly up to 4m of the hull survives.
In 1974 an attempt was made to loot the site with a mechanical excavator and the site was given an emergency designation to prevent any further plunder. Peter Marsden and David Lyon subsequently conducted a preliminary archaeological survey which was published in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology (IJNA).
In 1983 the remains of the Anne were purchased from the Ministry of Defence by the Nautical Museums Trust Ltd and the Warship Anne Trust was formed.
Archaeological survey was conducted on the site between 1983 and 1994 and a further detailed investigation was carried out between 1996 and 1997 which included a small underwater excavation. Historical research has been carried out by Peter Le Fevre and Richard Endsor studied the structure.
Finds recovered from the Anne in 1974 include shot, wooden barrel staves, clay pipes, spoons, a pewter plate and a coin of James II. Some of these objects are at the Shipwreck Heritage centre at Hastings along with the archive; a few other objects are in Hastings Museum.
Archaeological survey has illustrated that the remains of the Anne are deteriorating. The ships timbers are being eroded by marine borers; waves breaking across the site at low tide are breaking up the remaining hull structure. The Warship Anne Trust is currently investigating ways to either recover or preserve the wreck.