Christopher Wren

Christopher Wren

Christopher Wren, an English architect, best known for the design of many churches in London was born on 20 October 1632 in England.

As per the culture of the time he acquired early education in classics and started studying astronomy and physiology. He graduated from Oxford with a B.A degree and M.A degree in 1653, eventually receiving a doctorate of civil laws in 1661 and served as a professor of astronomy at Gresham College, London.

Wren owes his interest for architecture to the study of physics and engineering. He did not receive any formal education for architecture but he learned it on his own through and extensive study of Italian and French treatises and pattern books. During 1664-65 Wren undertook a few architectural projects in Oxford and Cambridge, thus making way into the practical world of architecture. In 1665 Wren made his only trip abroad for architecture and stayed for eight months in France where he met some leading French and Italian architects.

In 1665 the Great Fire of London gave Wren an opportunity to bring forth his abilities and he proposed plans for rebuilding the affected area again. But unfortunately the proposals got rejected, for the owners did not want to give away their lands. Wren did not lose hope and kept on pursuing his career and built 51 new city churches. In 1669 he got another chance and was appointed as the surveyor of the royal works. This break brought control over all government buildings in the country. As a result of this post one after the other royal buildings were thrown along his way to design or renovate.

Despite being busy with architectural projects, Wren never left his scientific activities altogether. Later in time Wren also got the opportunity to design royal palaces and then came a time when he was profoundly known as Palace Architect. Hampton Court Palace is one of the important palaces of this phase of his life, but due to some political reasons its construction got suspended. In 1694 Wren started making plans for a royal hospital as well after the construction of Hampton Palace stopped. Till date, Greenwich Hospital is regarded as one of the great pieces made by Christopher Wren.

As a result of Wren’s contributions for royal structures, he was given a house at Hampton Court. This is the same place where Christopher Wren died a sudden death on 25 February 1723. Wren died at an age of 90, leaving behind some extravagant churches that did not let architects of 18th century forget him for a long period of time. One of the greatest creations of Wren is St. Paul’s Cathedral which gained fame even in Paris, a place where English architecture never got acclaimed.

Even though the churches made by Wren left deep marks in architectural world but still after his death new generation of architects rejected his ideas of architecture, calling them unclassical. With the passage of time his work stopped making impression on newcomers of the field and thus in 20th century his contributions started getting controversial tags along with them and eventually his work secured the label of impotent for English architecture.

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