Christopher Wren

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Sir Christopher Wren

Sir Christopher Wren (born October 20 . Jul / thirtieth October  1632 greg. In East Knoyle in Wiltshire , † February 25, 1722 . Jul / 8. March  1723 . Greg in Hampton Court ) was a British astronomer and architect . He was a founding member of the Royal Society .


Wren studied mathematics at Oxford and became a teacher of astronomy at Gresham College in London in 1657 . There he became a co-founder of the Royal Society , of which he was president from 1680 to 1682. In 1659 he became a teacher at Oxford University . In addition, he was particularly interested in architecture .

In 1665 he went to France to study the buildings erected under Louis XIV , which led him to a strict classicism . After the great fire of London (1666) he was appointed the city's builder and in 1668 the royal general architect of England. Together with Robert Hooke , he developed the plans to rebuild London. As such, he has built over 60 churches and public buildings, including the new section of Hampton Court Palace , the Palace at Winchester , Kensington Palace , the library of Trinity College at Cambridge. His main work is St Paul's Cathedral in London , built from 1675 to 1710 .

Wren's executed design for St Paul's Cathedral

Christopher Wren is one of the most brilliant appearances in English architecture. Like many English builders of the time, he was self-taught . Its importance lay in the fact that he was one of the first architects to consciously build in different styles. Although he preferred a sober classicism for many buildings , other style elements can also be found in him, be it the Italian Baroque or the Gothic . This tendency towards eclecticism persisted in English architecture in the period that followed.

His long-time employee Nicholas Hawksmoor was after the collaboration with Wren employee of John Vanbrugh and led the construction of Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard, among others .

Christopher Wren designed the first rain gauge in 1661 . In the field of medicine, Christopher Wren's universal interest led to progress: one of the first systemic injections was his. Since syringe cannulas had not yet been invented, he used a thighbone of a nightingale, which he saw at an angle. Not all of his views and insights led to progress, however: in 1656 he injected wine into the veins of dogs. This experiment can be traced back not least to the then prevailing doctrine of iatrochemistry , according to which every substance in the human body has an equivalent in the macrocosm, the imbalance of which can and must be balanced in the human microcosm.

Wren always refused to have a monument erected to him. His work should speak for him. His grave slab in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral with the inscription Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice (“viewer, if you are looking for a monument, look around”) reminds of the architect.

On May 18, 1691, Sir Christopher Wren became a member of the Freemasons . Significantly, the acceptance ceremony took place at St Paul's Cathedral. This event is also mentioned in the famous diaries of John Evelyn .

In 1986 the asteroid (3062) Wren was named after him.


Wren's writings were edited by his son.

Christopher Wren's main work is St Paul's Cathedral in London , built from 1675 to 1710 . The magnificent Sheldon Theater in Oxford and Pembroke College in Cambridge can also be traced back to him. With Robert Hooke he designed the monument in memory of the Great Fire .


  • Hugo Altmann:  Wren, Sir Christopher. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 32, Bautz, Nordhausen 2011, ISBN 978-3-88309-615-5 , Sp. 1554-1580.
  • James A. Bennett: Christopher Wren. Astronomy, Architecture, and the Mathematical Sciences . In: Journal for the History of Astronomy , Vol. 6 (1975), pp. 149-184, ISSN  0021-8286 (online) .
  • James A. Bennett: The mathematical science of Christopher Wren . University Press, Cambridge 1982.
  • Tobias Churton: Freemasonry. The reality . Lewis Masonic, Hersham 2007, ISBN 0-853182-75-2 .
  • Kerry Downes et al. a. (Ed.): Sir Christopher Wren. An exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery , July 9 - September 26, 1982 . WAG, London 1982, ISBN 0-86294-030-3 .
  • Anthony Geraghty: The architectural drawings of Sir Christopher Wren. At All Souls College , Oxford; a complete catalog . Ashgate Books, Aldershot, Hampshire 2007, ISBN 978-0-7546-4071-4 .
  • Christian E. Hauer (Ed.): Christopher Wren and the many sides of genius. Proceedings of a Christopher Wren Symposium . Mellen, Lewiston 1997, ISBN 0-7734-8546-5 .
  • Leo Hollis: London rising. The men who made modern London . Walker, New York 2008, ISBN 978-0-8027-1632-3 .
  • Lisa Jardine : On a Grander Scale. The Outstanding Life of Sir Christopher Wren . HarperCollins, New York 2003, ISBN 0-06-019974-1 .
  • John Summerson : Sir Christopher Wren (Makers of History). Collins Clear-Type Press, London 1953.
  • Margaret Whinney: Wren (World of Art). Thames & Hudson, New York 1998, ISBN 0-500-20112-9 (unaltered reprint of the London 1971 edition).
  • Karl-Eugen Kurrer : The History of the Theory of Structures. Searching for Equilibrium , Ernst & Sohn 2018, p. 225f and p. 1083 (biography), ISBN 978-3-433-03229-9 .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Before 1752 the Julian calendar was used in England . In addition, the year began on March 25th July. , around three months after the turn of the year in continental Europe. The dates of birth and death can be found in: Christopher Wren: Parentalia or Memoirs of the family of the Wrens , London 1750 (new edition 1965). Shortly after his death, the following note was found in the newspaper The Post-Boy , No. 5243, Tuesday, February 26th to Thursday, February 28th, 1722 jul. : "On Monday last, died Sir Christopher Wren, aged 92". His plaque in St Paul's Cathedral has the inscription Obijt XXV Feb: An °: MDCCXXIII Æt: XCI. Note that the year on the newspaper is in the old style, while the year on the plaque is in the new style.
  2. Dieter Jetter: History of Medicine. Introduction to the development of medicine in all countries and times . Thieme Verlag, Stuttgart 1991, p. 233, ISBN 3-13-766201-X .
  3. Minor Planet Circ. 10846

Web links

Commons : Christopher Wren  - Collection of images, videos and audio files