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 Lawrence Jewry is another church I visited as part of Open House London. It’s the official church of the City of London Corporation. There’s been a church here from 1136 though the current building is at least the third one on the site. It’s name comes from its historical location next to where a Jewish community lived and is next to the Guildhall building (to feature in a later post).
A church has probably been on the site of St Mary-le-Bow since Saxon times but the present building was one of the first churches to be rebuilt after the Great Fire of London by Christopher Wren. 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.
St Stephen Walbrook is another church I visited whilst down in London for Open House last year. It’s the third church building on the site, the first was founded in Saxon times, the second was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the third was designed by Christopher Wren in 1672.
I visited St Mary Aldermary as part of Open House London though it’s been on my to do list for a while. There’s probably been a church on this site for over 900 years with the name Aldermary meaning “older Mary”, suggesting it was the first local church dedicated to Mary and therefore the oldest such church in the City. The Great Fire in 1666 destroyed the original church, so its current building was given a more Gothic rebuild by Christopher Wren.
Lincoln is only an hour or so away from Nottingham so I decided to take a trip there recently and bought a joint ticket to both the Cathedral and Lincoln Castle which was well worth the price of £18. An easy-ish walk from the railway station (there is a steep hill involved though buses are also available) some of the Cathedral was under scaffolding when I visited but that didn’t detract from the impressiveness of the building.
St James’ Church, Piccadilly is one of the churches designed and built by Christopher Wren, the foundation stone being laid on 3 April 1676. It was paid for by the Earl of St Albans who owned the land and probably selected Wren personally for the job.
St Mary-at-Hill was one of those churches I decided to pop in and visit while I was wandering around the Billingsgate area of London. The entrance is hidden away down a narrow street, handily marked by the sign below, and is far bigger inside than I’d been expecting.