Sir Christopher Wren

Born in East Knoyle, Wiltshire, in 1632, the son of the rector of St Mary's Church, Knoyle. Christopher Wren attended Westminster School and Wadham College, Oxford, where he graduated with a masters degree in 1651. Focusing on astronomy, physics, and anatomy. He experimented with submarine design, road paving, and design of telescopes. At the tender age of 25, he was offered the Chair of Astronomy at Gresham College, London. It wasn't until he was thirty-one that Wren first tried his hand at architecture by designing Pembroke College Chapel at Cambridge University. Fate is a strange thing and everyone has their time. For thirty-four-year-old Wren, his moment of glory came on September 7th, 1666, with the Great Fire of London.

Being at the right place at the right time has been just part of Wren's luck. Just six days before the Great Fire of London, Wren had submitted plans for the reconstruction of St. Paul's Cathedral and within days after the destruction of London by fire Wren had submitted his plans to King Charles II for the rebuilding of London. His plans for the City created wider streets on a grid system, not unlike New York. Unfortunately, private interests conflicted so his planned city was not to be, instead, the exact streets were re-laid on the same layout as before.

Wren was just thirty-four at the start of the Great Fire and as Surveyor General to Charles II, he was responsible for rebuilding more than fifty churches, thirty-six company halls, the Custom House, the Temple Bar and of course his masterpiece Saint Paul's Cathedral. It is worth mentioning that after the Fire of London and destruction of St Paul's, the site lay untouched for eighteen months. Wren was asked to rebuild the cathedral, the authorities levying a special tax on London coal to pay for the new building.

The Building of St Paul's

Wren was Forty-three years of age when the first stone of St Paul's was laid, he was an old man of seventy-five when the last stone was set upon the cathedral.

You can see the marker stone just above the ledge and below the birds claws

   "Resurgam" - "I shall rise again."

When Wren stood among the ruins of the old cathedral, he asked a workman to bring a stone to mark the centre of the new church. The man brought him a fragment of a gravestone on which was written "Resurgam" - "I shall rise again."

All the time throughout the construction of this masterpiece he watched the creation taking shape against the London skyline. He was content to be dragged up in a basket three times a week to the top of St. Paul's and at great danger to himself, all for just the measly sum of £200 a year!

During Wrens last five years of life, he would travel once a year from retirement at his home at Hampton Court to London and enjoy sitting beneath the great dome of his masterpiece St Paul's.

Wren lived to the great age of ninety-one and was discovered dead in his chair by his servant.

Some other works by Wren

Temple Bar - Originally the City gateway boundary from Strand/Fleet Street. During the eighteenth century, Temple Bar was used to display the heads of traitors on iron spikes which protruded from the top of the main arch as well as being used as a prison.

Old Temple Bar was built by Wren just after the Fire of London. It was a gateway with a wide central arch for traffic to enter, with two smaller ones on either side for foot passengers. On the Westminster side were statues of King Charles I and King Charles II; on the City side were Queen Elizabeth I and James I. When Kings and Queens arrived at the Temple Bar the gates would be shut, the royal possession halted and ordered one of the heralds to knock. The Lord Mayor, the City Marshal and Sheriffs would wait at the other side of the gates and shout "Who's there?" Whereupon the King would offer his sword and receive the keys of the City from the Lord Mayor and the gates would be opened. This action still takes place by the side of the Griffin on official Royal visits. Wren's Temple Bar was Pulled down in 1877 when the Law Courts were being built and replaced by the Griffin we see today in the centre of the road now marking the spot. Fortunately, Wren's gateway was saved and rebuilt, when in 1880 Sir Henry Meux, bought Temple Bar to use as a gateway to his park and mansion estate at Theobalds Park, where it remained for 124 years.

The gateway was finally returned to the City brick by brick in 2004 and rebuilt just a stone's throw from Wren's masterpiece - St Paul's

The last remaining stone from Temple Bar was lifted from the grounds of Theobalds Park at 1 pm on Wednesday, 4th February 2004. The stone known simply as LUFC7 which was laid shortly before the officially reopening near St Paul's Churchyard on 10 Nov 2004.

The Monument

The Edinburgh-born writer James Boswell visited the Monument in 1763 to climb the 311 steps to what was then the highest viewpoint in London. Halfway up, he suffered a panic attack, but persevered and made it to the top, where he found it "horrid to be so monstrous a way up in the air, so far above London and all its spires".

The Monument to the Great Fire of London consists of a towering, 202-foot (61-metre) stone column, decorated with dragons and topped with a flaming golden orb. On the inside, a striking spiral staircase stretches all the way to the top, twisting up like the peel of an apple carved in a single, continuous ribbon. For years, a cracked plaque tacked to the base explained that it had been designed by Sir Christopher Wren. Again, this isn't entirely truthful. n fact, the Monument was designed by his close friend: Robert Hooke, a scientist. Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke, were two of the early Royal Society's most prominent scientists and architects.

London Time

The contents of this website are the property of and therefore must not be reproduced without permission. Every effort is made to ensure the details contained on this website are correct, however, we cannot accept responsibility for errors and omissions.

Contact Us | Advertise