Christopher Wren died on 25 February 1723 so today marks the 300th anniversary of his death. The Georgian Group (which is a charitable organisation set up to preserve Georgian buildings that I only discovered existed this year) are spearheading a range of activities/lectures etc. about Christopher Wren for this anniversary throughout the year – you can find their events page here. One of my low key bucket list items is to visit every building connected with Wren and I’ve managed to tick off quite a few. St Paul’s Cathedral is of course one of them (though somewhat annoyingly when I visited – back in 2015 it turns out! – you couldn’t take pictures of the inside which is now permitted) but there are plenty of other interesting churches to visit, some of which are highlighted below.
Originally recognised for the design of at least 52 churches after the Great Fire of London it’s understood nowadays that many of those probably had much of the principal work, if not all, done by those who were working for Wren, such as Nicholas Hawksmoor, now a renowned architect in his own right. St-Mary-at-Hill is one of those churches that Wren restored after the fire and which was probably overseen by another architect, this time Robert Hooke. You can see more photos of the church here.
St Mary-le-Bow is another beautiful church and according to tradition you have to have been born within the sound of the bells of Mary-le-Bow to be considered a true Cockney. It has probably one of Wren’s most ambitious tower designs and was almost completely destroyed by a German bomb in 1941. You can find more photos here.
St Bride’s Church is one of my favourites, a lovely open calm space right in the middle of Fleet Street. The design of its spire is said to have inspired the first baker to make the traditional tiered wedding cake. You can find more photos here.
St Lawrence Jewry next Guildhall was one of Wren’s most expensive projects and has one of my favourite stained glass windows of the man himself. Once again it is a church that was severely damaged during the Blitz and so the architect Cecil Brown rebuilt it in the 1950s replicating many of Wren’s original designs. You can find more photos here.
Here we have the Guild Church of St Margaret Pattens, located near the Monument to the Great Fire of London. The current church building was built in 1687. The church’s name of Pattens is said to come from wooden shoes that were worn outdoors over a normal shoe. They helped people walk above the mud and dirt (and other things!) of London’s streets. Parishioners would have been asked to remove them on entering the church.
Speaking of the Monument to the Great Fire of London, that was another of Wren’s creations. The Monument is 202 feet high, the exact distance between it and where the fire began. You can climb to the top and it gives you without doubt some of my favourite views of London.
Then there is St Vedast-Alias-Foster. The original church was founded before 1308 and though not completely destroyed by the Great Fire of London, did require a lot of reconstruction by Christopher Wren and his team. On 29 December 1940, when German planes dropped 24,000 high explosives in the area the church was gutted with the roof, pews, pulpit and fittings all destroyed. Plans to rebuild began in 1947 though work only started in 1953. You can find more photos here.
This is naturally only a small snapshot of the wonderful buildings that Christopher Wren was involved with. One of our greatest architects it’s always a joy to seek out his buildings. And of course, you can’t not share a photo of St Paul’s Cathedral at a time like this. Which building of Wren’s is your favourite?