Christopher Wren : architect biography

famous architect : Christopher Wren

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Christopher Wren architect
Christopher Wren architect
Christopher Wren architect
Christopher Wren architect

Christopher Wren

Christopher Wren Christopher Wren was born in 1632 to a highly placed clergyman of the Church of England, who was knowledgeable in science and architecture, and who became Dean of Windsor. His uncle Matthew had also been Dean of Windsor and later became Bishop of Ely.

Christopher Wren received a then-traditional early education in the classics, in spite of the outbreak of civil war in 1642, and began studies in astronomy and physiology. Christopher Wren graduated from Wadham College, Oxford University, with a B.A. and, in 1653, an M.A. degree. After four years in research as a Fellow of All Souls College at Oxford (eventually receiving a doctorate of civil laws in 1661), Christopher Wren became Professor of Astronomy at Gresham College, London, writing that geometry' and arithmetic were ". . . the only Truths that can sink into the Mind of Man void of all Uncertainty".

Meanwhile, Christopher Wren had received no formal instruction in architecture, but taught himself through an inquiring study of Italian and French treatises and pattern books, including that of Vitruvius, exploring the relationship between immutable natural laws that could be expressed mathematically and their interpretive application to artistic design through mutable rules. Before 1660, Christopher Wren had prepared a treatise on "New Designs Tending to Strength, Convenience and Beauty in Building." It was not until 1665 that Christopher Wren undertook his only architectural visit abroad, where Christopher Wren met with some leading French and Italian architects, including Bernini, during an eight-month stay in France.

In 1661, Christopher Wren participated in the founding of the Royal Society, left his Gresham post to return to Oxford as Savilian Professor of Astronomy (serving until 1673), and was sought after for scientific and architectural advice, Christopher Wren was consulted by King Charles II on the design of the fortifications of Tangier and, as a result, was offered the post of Surveyor General of the Royal Work, upon the death of the incumbent, a position Christopher Wren held from 1669 to 1718 Bishop Sheldon of London consulted him on the had structural condition of the old St. Paul's Cathedra1 and commissioned him to design the Sheldonian Theatre (ca 1664-1669) at Oxford, which made substantial use of his mathematical and structural talents. Also in 1661, his uncle commissioned a new chapel for Pembroke College. Cambridge, which was completed in 1665 as Christopher Wren 's first work of architecture.

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Sir Christopher Wren - Great Buildings Online
Christopher Wren Association

Following the Great Fire of 1666, which had hopelessly damaged most of the City of London. Christopher Wren proposed within 10 days an ideal plan for the City calling for straight streets, etc, hich was deemed impractical. Later, however, Christopher Wren was active in establishing new safety regulations for buildings and, significantly, was busy as the chief architect for the rebuilding of over 40 parish churches, developing the single steeple ". . . large enough for a good Ring of Bells ..." as an important British urban design and architectural element, which had considerable later influence in the United States. His principal work, the evolutionary design and construction of the new St. Paul's Cathedral, started soon after 1670 (although Christopher Wren had proposed a reconstructed dome for the former edifice shortly before the fire' and was eventually completed in 1711. In 1698, Christopher Wren became Surveyor of Westminster Abbey.

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His significant work for the Church of England: for the Crown (under four sovereigns), including the Hampton Court Palace enlargement (1689-1700) and the Greenwich Naval Hospital (1696 - 1716); and for academia, including the Library for Trinity College at Cambridge (1676 - 1684) consumed most of his effort, and Christopher Wren also advised friends and colleagues on architectural matters. Christopher Wren worked with the finest building materials and craftsmen on all of his projects.

Christopher Wren was knighted ca 1673, was President of the Royal Society from 1681 to 1683, and entered Parliament in 1685, serving in the House of Common intermittently for a total of about three years (through 17O2) from several residence district. Christopher Wren was interred in St. Paul's in 1723, his marker bearing the legend, in Latin, "Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you."

1. K. Downes in A. K. Placzek, ed., Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects. Vol. 4. The Free Press, New York, 1982, pp. 419-433.
2. L. Milman. Sir Christopher Wren. Dockworth and Co., London. 1908, including Appendix K by Wren regarding the parish churches.
3. B. Fletcher, A History of Architecture on the Comparative Method, 16th ed., B. T. Batsford Ltd, London, 1954, p. 812.

General References
L. Weaver. Sir Christopher Wren, Scientist, Scholar and Architect, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1928,
S. Sitwell, British Architect and Craftsmen, 4th ed., B.T. Batsford Ltd., London, 1948,
R Dutton, The Age of Christopher Wren, B.T. Batsford Ltd., London, 1932
J. Lindsey, Christopher Wren, His Work and Times, Philosophical Library, Inc., New York, 1952

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