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Encyclopedia > Christopher Wren
Sir Christopher Wren
Sir Christopher Wren in Godfrey Kneller's 1711 portrait
Sir Christopher Wren in Godfrey Kneller's 1711 portrait
Born 20 October 1632
East Knoyle, Wiltshire, England
Died 25 February 1723
London
Residence England
Nationality English
Field architecure, physics, astronomy, and mathematics
Alma Mater Wadham College, University of Oxford
Known for Designer of 53 churches including St. Paul's Cathedral, as well as many secular buildings of note in London after the Great Fire


Sir Christopher Wren, (20 October 163225 February 1723) was a 17th century English designer, astronomer, geometrician, and the greatest English architect of his time. Wren designed 53 London churches, including St. Paul's Cathedral, as well as many secular buildings of note. He was a founder of the Royal Society (president 1680–82), and his scientific work was highly regarded by Sir Isaac Newton and Blaise Pascal. Sir Christopher Wren by Godfrey Kneller, 1711, NPG 113. ... Sir Godfrey Kneller (August 8, 1646 -October 19, 1723) was an artist, court painter to several British monarchs. ... Wiltshire (abbreviated Wilts) is a large southern English county. ... Motto: (French for God and my right) Anthem: Multiple unofficial anthems Capital London Largest city London Official language(s) English (de facto) Government Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Queen Elizabeth II  - Prime Minister Tony Blair MP Unification    - by Athelstan AD 927  Area    - Total 130,395 km² (1st in UK)   50,346 sq... London (pronounced ) is the capital city of England and of the United Kingdom. ... Motto: (French for God and my right) Anthem: Multiple unofficial anthems Capital London Largest city London Official language(s) English (de facto) Government Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Queen Elizabeth II  - Prime Minister Tony Blair MP Unification    - by Athelstan AD 927  Area    - Total 130,395 km² (1st in UK)   50,346 sq... Motto: (French for God and my right) Anthem: Multiple unofficial anthems Capital London Largest city London Official language(s) English (de facto) Government Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Queen Elizabeth II  - Prime Minister Tony Blair MP Unification    - by Athelstan AD 927  Area    - Total 130,395 km² (1st in UK)   50,346 sq... This article is about the built environment. ... The first few hydrogen atom electron orbitals shown as cross-sections with color-coded probability density. ... A giant Hubble mosaic of the Crab Nebula. ... For other meanings of mathematics or math, see mathematics (disambiguation). ... Wadham College is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. ... The University of Oxford (often called Oxford University), located in the city of Oxford, England, is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. ... St Pauls Cathedral is a cathedral on Ludgate Hill, in the City of London in London, and the seat of the Bishop of London. ... The Great Fire of London was a major fire that swept through the City of London from 2-5 September 1666, and resulted more or less in the destruction of the city. ... October 20 is the 293rd day of the year (294th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 72 days remaining. ... See also: 1632 (novel) Events February 22 - Galileos Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems is published July 23 - 300 colonists for New France depart Dieppe November 8 - Wladyslaw IV Waza elected king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth after Zygmunt III Waza death November 16 - Battle of Lützen... February 25 is the 56th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... Events February 16 - Louis XV of France attains his majority Births February 24 - John Burgoyne, British general (d. ... Motto: (French for God and my right) Anthem: Multiple unofficial anthems Capital London Largest city London Official language(s) English (de facto) Government Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Queen Elizabeth II  - Prime Minister Tony Blair MP Unification    - by Athelstan AD 927  Area    - Total 130,395 km² (1st in UK)   50,346 sq... London (pronounced ) is the capital city of England and of the United Kingdom. ... St Pauls Cathedral is a cathedral on Ludgate Hill, in the City of London in London, and the seat of the Bishop of London. ... The premises of the Royal Society in London (first four properties only). ... Sir Isaac Newton in Knellers portrait of 1689. ... Blaise Pascal (June 19, 1623 – August 19, 1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher. ...

Contents


Biography

Early life and education

Wren was born at East Knoyle, Wiltshire, on 20 October 1632, the only surviving son of Christopher Wren DD (1589-1658), at that time the rector of East Knoyle and later dean of Windsor. A previous child of Dr Wren, also named Christopher, was born on 22 November 1631, and had died the same day. John Aubrey’s confusion of the two persisted occasionally into late twentieth-century literature. Wiltshire (abbreviated Wilts) is a large southern English county. ... See also: 1632 (novel) Events February 22 - Galileos Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems is published July 23 - 300 colonists for New France depart Dieppe November 8 - Wladyslaw IV Waza elected king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth after Zygmunt III Waza death November 16 - Battle of Lützen... Events Rebellion of the Catholic League against King Henry III of France, in revenge for his murder of Duke Henry of Guise. ... Events January 13 - Edward Sexby, who had plotted against Oliver Cromwell, dies in Tower of London February 6 - Swedish troops of Charles X Gustav of Sweden cross The Great Belt (Storebælt) in Denmark over frozen sea May 1 - Publication of Hydriotaphia, Urn Burial and The Garden of Cyrus by... Windsor (IPA: usually , but also ) is a suburban town and tourist destination in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire, South East England. ... // Events February 5 - Roger Williams emigrates to Boston. ... John Aubrey. ...


As a child Wren ‘seem’d consumptive’[1]---the kind of sickly child who survives into robust old age. He was first taught at home by a private tutor and his father. After his father's appointment as dean of Windsor in March 1635, his family spent part of each year there. Little is known about Wren’s life at Windsor and it is misleading to say that Wren and the son of Charles I became childhood friends there and “often played together”[2]. Windsor (IPA: usually , but also ) is a suburban town and tourist destination in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire, South East England. ... Events February 10 - The Académie française in Paris is expanded to become a national academy for the artistic elite. ... Charles I (19 November 1600 – 30 January 1649) was King of England, Scotland, and Ireland, from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. ...


Wren’s schooling is also not anything like definitive. The story that he was at Westminster School from 1641 to 1646 is unsubstantiated. Parentalia, the biography compiled by his son a third Christopher, places him there ‘for some short time’ before going to Oxford (in 1650). Some of his youthful exercises preserved or recorded (though few are datable) showed that he received a thorough grounding in Latin; he also learned to draw. According to Parentalia, he was ‘initiated’ in the priciples of mathematics by Dr William Holder, who married Wren’s elder sister Susan in 1643. During this time period, Wren manifested an interest in the design and construction of mechanical instruments. It was probably through Holder that Wren met Sir Charles Scarburgh, with whom he assisted in the anatomical studies. The Royal College of St. ... Events The Long Parliament passes a series of legislation designed to contain Charles Is absolutist tendencies. ... // Events The Westminster Confession of Faith Ongoing events Wars of the Three Kingdoms, including the English Civil War (1642-1649) Births February 4 - Hans Erasmus Aßmann, Freiherr von Abschatz, German statesman and poet (d. ... // Events June 23 - Claimant King Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland arrives in Scotland, the only of the three Kingdoms that has accepted him as ruler. ... Latin is an ancient Indo-European language. ... For other meanings of mathematics or math, see mathematics (disambiguation). ... // Events January 21 - Abel Tasman discovers Tonga February 6 - Abel Tasman discovers the Fiji islands. ... Sir Charles Scarborough Sir Charles Scarborough, MP, FRS, FRCP (1615-1694), was an English physician and mathematician. ...


Wren entered Wadham College, Oxford, on 25 June 1650. At Wadham, Wren’s formal education was conventional. The curriculum was still based on the study of Aristotle and the discipline of the Latin language, and it is anachronistic to imagine that he received scientific training in the modern sense. However, Wren became closely associated with John Wilkins, who served as warden in Wadham. John Wilkins was a member of a group of distinguished scholars. This group, whose activities led to the formation of Royal Society, was consisted of a number of distinguished mathematicians, original and sometimes brilliant practical workers and experimental philosophers. This connection probably influenced Wren’s studies of science and mathematics at college. He graduated B.A. in 1651, and three years later received M.A. College name Wadham College Named after Nicholas and Dorothy Wadham Established 1610 Sister College Christs College Warden Sir Neil Chalmers JCR President Ben Jasper Undergraduates 460 MCR President David Patrikarakos Graduates 180 Homepage Boatclub Wadham College is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. ... Aristotle (Greek: , AristotélÄ“s) (384 BC – March 7, 322 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. ... Latin is an ancient Indo-European language. ... John Wilkins. ... The premises of the Royal Society in London (first four properties only). ... // Events January 1 - Charles II crowned King of Scotland in Scone. ...


Middle years

Wren was appointed Professor of Astronomy at Gresham College, London in 1657. He was provided with a set of rooms and a stipend and was required to give weekly lectures in both Latin and English to all who wished to attend (admission was free). Wren took up this new work with enthusiasm. He continued to meet the men with whom he had frequent discussions in Oxford. They attended his London lectures and in 1660, initiated formal weekly meetings. It was from these meetings that the Royal Society, England’s premier scientific body, was to develop. He undoubtedly played a major role in the early life of what would become the Royal Society; his great breadth of expertise in so many different subjects helping in the exchange of ideas between the various scientists. In fact, the report on one of these meetings reads:- Gresham College is an unusual institution of higher learning in London which enrolls no students and grants no degrees. ... London (pronounced ) is the capital city of England and of the United Kingdom. ... Events January 8 - Miles Sindercombe, would-be-assassin of Oliver Cromwell, and his group are captured in London February - Admiral Robert Blake defeats the Spanish West Indian Fleet in a battle over the seizure of Jamaica. ... Latin is an ancient Indo-European language. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... College name Wadham College Named after Nicholas and Dorothy Wadham Established 1610 Sister College Christs College Warden Sir Neil Chalmers JCR President Ben Jasper Undergraduates 460 MCR President David Patrikarakos Graduates 180 Homepage Boatclub Wadham College is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. ... // Events January 1 - Colonel George Monck with his regiment crosses from Scotland to England at the village of Coldstream and begins advance towards London in support of English Restoration. ... The premises of the Royal Society in London (first four properties only). ... Motto: (French for God and my right) Anthem: Multiple unofficial anthems Capital London Largest city London Official language(s) English (de facto) Government Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Queen Elizabeth II  - Prime Minister Tony Blair MP Unification    - by Athelstan AD 927  Area    - Total 130,395 km² (1st in UK)   50,346 sq...


Memorandum November 28 1660. These persons following according to the usual custom of most of them, met together at Gresham College to hear Mr Wren's lecture, viz. The Lord Brouncker, Mr Boyle, Mr Bruce, Sir Robert Moray, Sir Paule Neile, Dr Wilkins, Dr Goddard, Dr Petty, Mr Ball, Mr Rooke, Mr Wren, Mr Hill. And after the lecture was ended they did according to the usual manner, withdraw for mutual converse. [3] William Brouncker, 2nd Viscount Brouncker (1620–5 April 1684) was an English mathematician. ... Robert Boyle The Honourable Robert Boyle (January 25, 1627–December 30, 1691) was an Irish natural philosopher (chemist, physicist, and inventor) noted for his work in physics and chemistry. ... Sir Robert Moray P.R.S. (? - July 4, 1673), was a Scottish polymath. ... John Wilkins. ...


In 1662, they proposed a society “for the promotion of Physico-Mathematicall Experimental Learning.” This body received its Royal Charter from Charles II and 'The Royal Society of London for the Promotion of Natural Knowledge' was formed. In addition to being a founder member of the Society, Wren was president of the Royal Society from 1680 to 1682. Events February 1 - The Chinese pirate Koxinga seizes the island of Taiwan after a nine-month siege. ... Charles II (29 May 1630 – 6 February 1685) was the King of England, King of Scots, and King of Ireland from 30 January 1649 (de jure) or 29 May 1660 (de facto) until his death. ... Events First Portuguese governor was appointed to Macau The Swedish city Karlskrona was founded as the Royal Swedish Navy relocated there. ... Events March 11 – Chelsea hospital for soldiers is founded in England May 6 - Louis XIV of France moves his court to Versailles. ...


In 1661, Wren was elected Savilian Professor of Astronomy at Oxford, and in 1669 he was appointed Surveyor of Works to Charles II. From 1661 until 1668 Wren's life was based in Oxford, although the Royal Society meant that he had to make occasional trips to London. Events January 6 - The fifth monarchy men unsuccessfully attempt to seize control of London. ... The introduction to this article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject matter. ... A giant Hubble mosaic of the Crab Nebula. ... // Events Samuel Pepys stopped writing his diary. ... // Events January - The Triple Alliance of 1668 is formed. ...


The main sources for Wren’s scientific achievements are the records of the Royal Society. His scientific works ranged from astronomy, optics, the problem of finding longitude at sea, cosmology, mechanics, microscopy, surveying, medicine and meteorology. He observed, measured, dissected, built models, and employed, invented and improved a variety of instruments. It appears, however, that, having tested himself successfully in so many directions, he still, at 30, had not found the one in which he could find complete satisfaction. It is from around these times, his attention begins to turn to architecture. The Parthenon on top of the Acropolis, Athens, Greece Architecture (from Latin, architectura and ultimately from Greek, αρχιτεκτων, a master builder, from αρχι- chief, leader and τεκτων, builder, carpenter) is the art and science of designing buildings and structures. ...


One of Wren’s first architectural endeavors was the designs of the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford, which was completed in 1662. This, the gift of Bishop Sheldon of London to his old university, was influenced by the classical form of the Theatre of Marcellus in Rome, but was a mixture of this classical design with a modern empirical design. It was probably around this time that Wren was drawn into redesigning a battered St. Paul’s Cathedral. Making a trip to Paris in 1665, Wren studied the architecture, which had reached a climax of creativity, and perused the drawings of Bernini, the great Italian sculptor and architect. Returning from Paris, he made his first design for St. Paul’s. A week later, however, the Great Fire destroyed two-thirds of the city. Wren submitted his plans for rebuilding the city to King Charles II, however, was never adopted. With his appointment as King’s Surveyor of Works in 1669, he had a presence in the general process of rebuilding the city, but was not directly involved with the rebuilding of houses or companies’ halls. Wren was personally responsible of the rebuilding of 51 churches; however, it is not necessarily true to say that each of them represented his own fully developed design. Look below for more information on St. Paul’s and concurrent projects.


Wren was knighted 14 November, 1673. He was bestowed after his resignation from the Savilian position in Oxford, by which time he had already begun to make his mark as an architect both in services to the Crown and in playing an important part in rebuilding London after the Great Fire. A statue of an armoured knight of the Middle Ages For the chess piece, see knight (chess). ... Events January 22 - Impostor Mary Carleton is hanged in Newgate prison in England for multiple thefts and returning from penal transportation March 18 - John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton sells his part of New Jersey to the Quakers. ... For other uses, see Architect (disambiguation). ... The Great Fire of London was a major fire that swept through the City of London from 2-5 September 1666, and resulted more or less in the destruction of the city. ...


Additionally, he was sufficiently active in public affairs to be returned as Member of Parliament for Old Windsor in 1680, 1689 and 1690, but did not take his seat. States currently utilizing parliamentary systems are denoted in orange and red—the former being constitutional monarchies where authority is vested in a parliament, and the latter being parliamentary republics whose parliaments are effectively supreme over a separate head of state. ... Events Louis XIV of France passed the Code Noir, allowing the full use of slaves in the French colonies. ... Events Giovanni Domenico Cassini observes differential rotation within Jupiters atmosphere. ...


Wren married Faith Coghill, daughter of Sir John Coghill of Bletchingham, in 1669. Bletchingham was the home of Wren's brother-in-law William Holder who was rector of the local church. Holder had been a Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford. An intellectual of considerable ability, he is said to have been the figure who introduced Wren to arithmetic and geometry. By 1669 Wren's career was well established and it may have been his appointment as Surveyor-General of the King's Works in early 1669 that persuaded him that he could finally afford to take a wife. Little is known of Faith's life or demeanor, but a charming love letter from Wren survives and it is clear that the young Wren was entirely devoted to her. Faith died of smallpox a few months after giving birth to their second child, in September 1675. Bletchingdon Manor Picturesque cottages in the heart of the village The parish church Bletchingdon is a village and civil parish in the Cherwell district of Oxfordshire, England. ... College name Pembroke College Named after The Earl of Pembroke Established 1624 Sister College Queens College Master Giles Henderson JCR President Claire Addison Undergraduates 408 MCR President Ryan Glomsrud Graduates 94 Homepage Boatclub Pembroke College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. ... Smallpox (also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera) was a highly contagious viral disease unique to humans. ... Events January 5 - The Battle of Turckeim June 18 - Battle of Fehrbellin August 10 - King Charles II of England places the foundation stone of the Royal Greenwich Observatory in London - construction begins November 11 - Guru Gobind Singh becomes the Tenth Guru of the Sikhs. ...


In 1677, at the age of 45, and only a couple of years after Faith's death, Wren married again. He married Jane Fitzwilliam, who was the daughter of Lord Fitzwilliam of Lifford. He was probably at least partly prompted by wanting to provide a mother for his young children. It was, however, a short marriage for she died of tuberculosis in 1679 having given birth to two children. After this second tragedy Wren never remarried. Events First performance of Racines tragedy, Phèdre Sarah Churchill marries John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough Battle of Cassel, Philippe I of Orléans defeats William of Orange Mary II of England marries William of Orange English Statute of frauds is passed into law Battle of Landskrona Elias... Lifford (Leifear in Irish) is the county town of Donegal (near Castlefin) in the Republic of Ireland and the seat of Donegal County Council. ... It has been suggested that Antituberculant be merged into this article or section. ... Events January 24 - King Charles II of England disbands Parliament August 7 - The brigantine Le Griffon, which was commissioned by René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, is towed to the southern end of the Niagara River, to become the first ship to sail the upper Great Lakes. ...


Faith gave birth to two children, Gilbert, born in 1672, and Christopher, born in 1675. Gilbert died in infancy in 1674. Christopher was trained by his father to be an architect. It was Christopher that supervised the topping out ceremony of St Paul’s in 1710. He never was a successful architect but died a country gentleman. From his second marriage, Wren had two children. Jane, who was born in 1677, looked after her father when she grew up. She, however, died at the age of 26, before her father. Wren’s youngest son was William, born in 1679; however, he never had any sort of career and was possibly mentally handicapped. Events England, France, Munster and Cologne invade the United Provinces, therefore this name is know as ´het rampjaar´ (the disaster year) in the Netherlands. ... Events February 19 - England and the Netherlands sign the Treaty of Westminster. ... St Pauls Cathedral from the south St Pauls Cathedral is a cathedral on Ludgate Hill, in the City of London, and the seat of the Bishop of London. ... // Events April 10 - The worlds first copyright legislation became effective, Britains Statute of Anne Ongoing events Great Northern War (1700-1721) War of the Spanish Succession (1702-1713) Births January 3 - Richard Gridley, American Revolutionary soldier (d. ...


After the king Charles II’s death in 1685, Wren’s attention was directed mainly to Whitehall. The new king, James II, required a new chapel and also ordered a new gallery, council chamber and a riverside apartment for the Queen. Later, when James II was removed from the throne, Wren took on architectural projects such as Kensington Palace, Hampton Court and Greenwich Hospital, which was his last great work and the only one still in progress after St. Paul’s had been completed in 1711.


Late life

The great architect did not live a late life surrounded by flowers and applause. Instead, the criticisms and attacks on his competence and his taste were mounting fiercely. In 1712, the Letter Concerning Design of Anthony Ashley Copper, third earl of Shaftesbury, circulated in manuscript. Proposing a new British style of architecture, Shaftesbury censured Wren’s cathedral, his taste and his long-standing control of royal works. Although he was appointed to the Fifty New Churches Commission in 1711, he was left only with nominal charge of a broad of works when the surveyorship started in 1715. On 26 April 1718, on the pretext of failing powers, he was dismissed in favor of incompetent William Benson. Location within the British Isles For other uses, see Shaftesbury (disambiguation) Shaftesbury is a town in North Dorset, England, situated on the A30 road near the Wiltshire border 20 miles west of Salisbury. ...


Wren died on 25 February 1723 at his son’s house after ‘catching a cold’[4]; the attribution of this to a winter visit to St Paul’s is apocryphal. He was buried in the cathedral crypt, beneath a simple black marble floor slab. An inscribed wall tablet naearby ends with the words "Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice" ("Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you").


Scientific and architectural works

One of Wren's freinds, another great scientist and architect in his time, Robert Hooke said of him "Since the time of Archimedes there scarce ever met in one man in so great perfection such a mechanical hand and so philosophical mind." This comparison seems a little extravagant. However, there is no doubt that Wren was as deep as he was versatile at once a man of science and a great artist. A portrait, claimed by historian Lisa Jardine to be of Robert Hooke. ... Archimedes (Greek: Αρχιμήδης ) (c. ...


Scientific achievements

Wren is without a doubt, best known for his architectural achievements, which completely eclipses his scientific activities. It is important, however, to delve into his scientific activities in order to truly distinguish all of Wren’s accomplishments. In addition, it is important to note that by seventeenth-century standards, the word ‘scientific’ is used to include many ‘fields of science’ as we would classify today. It is misleading, moreover, to divide his work into ‘periods’ and sectionalize it: Wren appears to have been constantly working on several ‘fields of science’ simultaneously. Wren’s interest in science commenced many years earlier than the official founding of the Royal Society. By the time the Royal Society was founded, Wren’s fame in science had already grown.


As a fellow of All Souls, he constructed a transparent beehive for scientific observation; he began observing the moon, which was subsequent to the invention of micrometers for the telescope. He experimented on terrestrial magnetism and had taken part in medical experiments, performing the first successful injection of a substance into the bloodstream (of a dog).


In Gresham College, he did experiments involving determining longitude through magnetic variation and through lunar observation to help with navigation, and helped construct a 35ft telescope with Sir Paul Neile. Wren also studied and improved the microscope and telescope at this time. He had also been making observations of the planet Saturn from around 1652 with the aim of explaining its appearance. His hypothesis was written up in De corpore saturni but before the work was published Huygens presented his theory of the rings of Saturn. Immediately Wren recognized this as a better hypothesis than his own and De corpore saturni was never published. In addition, he constructed an exquisitely detailed lunar model and presented it to the king. Also his contribution to mathematics should be noted; in 1658, he found the length of an arc of the cycloid using an exhaustion proof based on dissections to reduce the problem to summing segments of chords of a circle which are in geometric progression.


A year into Wren’s appointment as a Savilian Professor in Oxford, the Royal Society is created and Wren becomes an active member. As a Savilian Professor, Wren studied thoroughly in mechanics, especially in elastic collisions and pendulum motions, which he studied extensively. He also directed his far-ranging intelligence to the study of meteorology, and fabricated a "weather-clock" that recorded temperature, humidity, rainfall and barometric pressure, which could be used to predict the weather. In addition, Wren experimented on muscle functionality as well, hypothesizing that the swelling and shrinking of muscles might proceed from a fermentative motion arising from the mixture of two heterogeneous fluids. Although this is incorrect, it is at least founded upon observation and may mark a new outlook on medicine – specialization. Another topic to which Wren contributed was optics. He published a description of an engine to create perspective drawings and he discussed the grinding of conical lenses and mirrors. Out of this work came another of Wren's important mathematical results, namely that the hyperboloid of revolution is a ruled surface. These results were published in 1669. In subsequent years, Wren continues with his work with the Royal Society, however, after the 1680’s, his scientific interests seem to have waned: no doubt his architectural and official duties absorbed all his time.


Mentioned above are only a few of Wren’s scientific works. He also studied in other areas not mentioned ranging from agriculture, ballistics, water and freezing, to investigating light and refraction only to name a few. Thomas Birch's History of the Royal Society is one of the most important sources of our knowledge not only of the origins of the Society, but also the day to day running of the Society. It is in these records that the majority of Wren’s scientific works are recorded.


Architectural career

First steps to architecture

It is not unusual for the well-educated to take up architecture as a gentlemanly activity, widely accepted in theory as a branch of applied mathematics; this is implicit in the writings of Vitruvius and explicit in such sixteenth-century authors as John Dee and Leonard Digges. When Wren was a student at Oxford, which saw much fine buildings throughout the first half of seventeenth century, he became familiar with Vitruvius' De architectura and absorbed intuitively the fundamentals of the architectural design there. Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was a Roman writer, architect and engineer, active in the 1st century BC. He was the author of De architectura, known today as The Ten Books of Architecture, a treatise in Latin on architecture, and perhaps the first work about this discipline. ... A sixteenth century portrait of John Dee, artist unknown. ... Leonard Digges (1520 - 1559), father of Thomas Digges was a well-known mathematician and surveyor, credited to the invention of the theodolite and a great populariser of science through his publications in English. ...


Through the Royal Society and his use of optics, Wren came particularly to the king’s notice. In 1661 he was approached by his cousin Matthew with a royal commission, as ‘one of the best Geometrician in Europe’, to direct the refortification of Tangier. Wren excused himself on grounds of health. Although this invitation may have arisen from Charles II’s casual opportunism in matching people to tasks, Wren is believed to be already on the way to architecture practice: before the end of 1661 Wren was unofficially advising the repair of old St. Paul’s Cathedral after two decades of neglect and distress; his architectural interests were also evident to his associates at the time. Two years after, he set his only foreign journey to Paris and the Ile-de-France, during which he acquired the first hand study of modern design and construction. By this time, he had mastered and thoroughly understood architecture. Unlike several of his colleagues who took it up as a set of rules and formulas for design, he possessed, understood, and exploited the combination of reason and intuition, experience and imagination. [5] However, Wren might never have been more than the first of a line of Oxford Scholars with architectural interests. The Great Fire of London lit the splendid star in the sky of architecture, and the light of this star illuminated, directly or indirectly, all the architects in England since that time to the Second World War. St. ...


Wren and St Paul's

Wren's Great Model
Wren's Great Model

St Paul's has always been the touchstone of Wren's reputation. His association with it spans his whole architectural career, including the thirty-six years between the start of the new building and the declaration by parliament of its completion in 1711. Image File history File links StPaulsDesign. ... Image File history File links StPaulsDesign. ... St Pauls is either: St Pauls Cathedral St Pauls School This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists pages that might otherwise share the same title. ...


Wren had been involved in repairs of the old cathedral since 1661. In the spring of 1666, he made his first design for a dome for St Paul's. It was accepted in principle on Aug. 27,1666. One week later, however, The Great Fire of London reduced two-thirds of the City to a smoking desert and old St Paul's to a ruin. Wren was most likely at Oxford at the time, but the news, so fantastically relevant to his future, drew him at once to London. Between September 5 and 11 he ascertained the precise area of devastation, worked out a plan for rebuilding the City and submitted it to Charles II. Others also submitted plans. However, no new plans proceeded any further than the paper on which it was drawn. A rebuilding act which provided rebuilding of some essential buildigns was passed in 1667. In 1669, the King's Surveyor of Works died and Wren was promptly installed. This is a list of historic fires. ...

Enlarge
Wren's "warrant design" for St Paul's.

‎ It was not until 1670 when the pace of rebuilding started accelerating. A second rebuilding act was passed that year, raising the tax on coal and thus providing a source of funds for rebuilding of churches destroyed within the City of London. Wren presented his initial "First Model" for St Paul's. This plan was accepted, and demolition of the old cathedral began. By 1672, however, this design seemed too modest, and Wren met his critics by producing a design of spectacular grandeur. This modified design, called "Great Model", was accepted by the King and the construction started in November, 1673. However, this design failed to satisfy the chapter and clerical opinion generally; moreover, it has a economic drawback. Wren was confined to a 'cathdral form' desired by the clergy. In 1674 he produced the rather meager Classical-Gothic compromise known as the Warrant Design. However, this design,called so from the royal warrant of 14 May 1675 attached to the drawings, is not the design on which work began only a few weeks ago. Wrens warrant design for St Pauls Cathedral in London. ... Wrens warrant design for St Pauls Cathedral in London. ...

Enlarge
Wren's cathedral as built.

The cathedral that Wren started to build bears only a slight resemblance to the Warrant Design. A mature and superbyly detailed structure began to rise. In 1697, the first service was held in the cathedral when Wren was 65. There was still, however, no dome. Finally in 1711 the cathedral was decalred complete, and Wren was paid half of his salary that, in the misguided hope of accelerating progress, parliament had withheld for fourteen years since 1697. The cathedral had been built for 36 years under him, and the only disappointment he had about his materpiece is the dome: against his wishes the commision engaged Thornhill to paint the inner dome in false perspective and finally authorized a balustrade around the proof line. This diluted the hard edge Wren had intended for his cathedral , and elicited the apt parthian comment that 'ladies think nothing well without an edging'.[6] Wrens final design for St Pauls Cathedral. ... Wrens final design for St Pauls Cathedral. ...


Major arichetectural works in the 1670s and 1680s

During the 1670s Wren received significant secular commissions which manifest both the maturity and the variety of his architecture and the sensitivity of his response to diverse briefs. Among many of his remarkable designs at this time, the monument commemorating the great fire, the Royal Observatory, and the library of Trinity College were the most important ones. The former two of the three works also involved Hooke, but Wren was in control of the final design. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1126x2237, 547 KB) A view of the Monument from the ground, London, England. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1126x2237, 547 KB) A view of the Monument from the ground, London, England. ... The Monument seen from the ground The Monument to the Great Fire of London, more commonly known as The Monument is a 61-metre (202-foot) tall stone Roman doric column in the City of London, near to the northern end of London Bridge. ... Hooke may refer to a number of things: The scientist Robert Hooke Hooke village in Dorset, England The River Hooke, also in Dorset This is a disambiguation page, a list of pages that otherwise might share the same title. ...


By historical accident, all Wren's large-scale secular commissions dated from after 1680s. At the age of fifty his personal development, as was that of English architecture, was ready for a monumental but humane architecture, in which the scales of individual parts relates both to the whole and to the people who used them. The first large project Wren designed, the Chelsea Hospital, does not entirely satisfy the eye in this respect, but met its belief with such distinction and success that even in the twentieth century it fulfils its original function. The reconstruction of the state room at Windsor Castle was notable for the integration of architecture, sculpture, and painting. This commission was in the hand of Hugh May, who died in February, 1684, before the construction finished. Wren assumed his post and finalized the works. Hugh May (1621-1684) was an English architect. ...


Wren did not pursue his work on architectural design as actively as he had before the 1690s, although he still played important roles in a number of royal commissions. In 1696 he was appointed Surveyor of Greenwich Naval Hospital, and three years later Surveyor of Westminster Abbey. He resigned the former role in 1716 but held the latter until his death.


Conclusion: Wren's achievement and reputation

Footnotes

  1. ^ C. Wren,Parebtalia, or, Memoirs of the family of the Wrens(1750)
  2. ^ Sir Christopher Wren. The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive. Retrieved on 2006-09-30.
  3. ^ Sir Christopher Wren. The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive. Retrieved on 2006-09-30.
  4. ^ J. Ward,The lives of the professors of Gresham College
  5. ^ Sir Christopher Wren: Natural Cause of Beauty
  6. ^ Bolton and Hendry,eds., The Wren Society, 20 vols.

2006 (MMVI) is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... September 30 is the 273rd day of the year (274th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2006 (MMVI) is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... September 30 is the 273rd day of the year (274th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

See also

The Professor of Astronomy at Gresham College is appointed by the City of London Corporation. ...

References

  • On a Grander Scale: The Outstanding Career of Sir Christopher Wren (ISBN 0-00-710775-7 hardback, ISBN 0-00-710776-5 paperback)
  • His Invention So Fertile: A Life of Christopher Wren (ISBN 0-19-514989-0)
  • Parebtalia, or, Memoirs of the family of the Wrens
  • The lives of the professors of Gresham College
  • The Americans (ISBN 0-618-37719-0)

  Results from FactBites:
 
Christopher Wren - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (696 words)
Sir Christopher Wren, PRS (20 October 1632–25 February 1723) was an English scientist and architect of the 17th century, most famous for his role in the re-building of London's churches after the Great Fire of London of 1666.
Wren is particularly known for his design for St Paul's Cathedral, one of very few cathedrals in England to have been built after the medieval period, and the only Renaissance cathedral in the country.
Christopher Wren was knighted in 1673 and served as a member of Parliament in 1685-1688 and 1702-1705.
WREN - LoveToKnow Article on WREN (1501 words)
Wren also designed a colonnade to enclose a large piazza forming a clear space round the church, somewhat after the fashion of Bernini's colonnade in front of St Peter's, but space in the city was too valuable to admit of this.
Wren was an enthusiastic admirer of Bernini's designs, and visited Paris in 1665 in order to see him and his proposed scheme for the rebuilding of the Louvre.
Many of these carry on the old belief that the wren was the king of birds, a belief connected with the fable that once the fowls of the air resolved to choose for their leader that one of them which should mount highest.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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