Strathpeffer's development during the 1800s as a fashionable spa resort made it a prime candidate for the development of a Scottish Episcopal Church. The arrival in 1885 of the railway with through coaches all the way from King's Cross meant that visitors flocked in from far and wide, and many of those used to Church of England services wanted their Sunday worship in a form reasonably familiar to them.
The nearest Episcopalian Church at the time was at Dingwall. In 1889 the Revd Wilson took over St James' in Dingwall and immediately started a campaign for the fund needed to construct a sister church in Strathpeffer, both for the benefit of visitors and to serve the spiritual needs of the many resident Episcopalians in the area, especially among the more well off.
Fundraising culminated in a two day bazaar, held in September 1890 and supported by all the local nobility, which raised £500. This may not sound much in today's terms: but it is set in perspective when you realise that it amounted to almost 20% of the architect's estimate for the total cost of the church.
The land on which the church is built was donated by one of its strongest supporters, Anne, Duchess of Sutherland and Countess of Cromartie. The stone from which the church was built was also quarried on her estates, and it is perhaps no coincidence that the church is dedicated to St Anne.
The foundation stone was laid on 2 April 1891, even though not all the funds needed had been raised by then, and the nave was completed in 1893. Although still incomplete, the church came into use soon afterwards, and the first wedding was held in June 1895. The chancel was finally added in 1899, and on 13 September 1900 St Anne's was consecrated as a Dependent Mission of St James' in Dingwall. St Anne's has remained closely linked to St James' ever since and the two share both a Priest in Charge and a website.
One of St Anne's most distinctive features is its carillon of eight tubular bells which are struck by wooden headed hammers operated by one person. It is believed that these were donated before building work started, because the tower was clearly designed to support them and the louvred tower windows can be opened by ropes to allow the bells to be heard better. The bells were restored for the new millennium.
Internally the church is a beautiful blend of dark wooden furniture and beams. The pulpit is made of Caen stone and alabaster, and the high altar of marble and alabaster. The most striking feature is the beautifully carved reredos above the altar. The atmosphere of the church is greatly enhanced with a fine collection of stained glass windows inserted during building and in the years up to 1910.
And, finally, very little in Strathpeffer is untouched by legends associated with the Brahan Seer, Scotland's answer to Nostradamus who lived in the early 1600s, and St Anne's in no exception. He is said to have predicted that "When five spires should rise in Strathpeffer, ships will sail over the village and anchor to them." Some say that this caused controversy in Strathpeffer when St Anne's was proposed, for there were already four spires in Strathpeffer. But it went ahead anyway.