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Sir Christopher Wren
Sir Christopher Wren was a designer, astronomer, geometer, and one of the greatest English architects of his time.
Christopher Wren was born into a rich family in 1632. He was a weak and sickly child and was taught at home by private tutors and his father. Wren’s schooling is a mystery: there are no documents about whether he attended school or not. However, there is a written evidence that he entered Oxford University in 1650 to study science and mathematics. On graduating from university, Wren was appointed Professor of Astronomy at Gresham College, London. He was required to give weekly lectures in both Latin and English to all who wished to attend; admission was free. His lectures and the following discussions led to establishing the Royal Society, England’s first scientific organization.
Later, Christopher Wren taught at Oxford University. His scientific work included astronomy, optics, mechanics, medicine and meteorology. He invented and improved lots of things. He experimented with submarine design, road paving, and design of telescopes. It was also around these times that his attention turned to architecture.
In Wren’s time, the profession of an architect did not exist. In the past, buildings had been constructed to the requirements of the patron and the suggestions of building professionals, such as master carpenters or master bricklayers. Since the early years of the 17th century, it was not unusual for the well-educated gentleman to take up architecture as a hobby. Wren designed 51 London churches, including St Paul’s Cathedral, and several buildings after the Great Fire in 1666. Each church was different, though all were classical in style. He insisted on the finest materials and only skillful workers were hired for the job.
Actually, St Paul’s Cathedral is still Wren’s masterpiece. The architectural style of St Paul’s Cathedral is a beautiful mix of the Medieval, Classical, and Baroque. The inside of St Paul’s Cathedral is gorgeous. The foundation stone of the Cathedral was laid in 1675 when Wren was 43 years old, and the last stone was put in place by his son, 35 years later.
Nowadays, St Paul’s Cathedral is the largest working Protestant church in England. Services are held regularly. Important events at the Cathedral have included the funerals of Lord Nelson and Sir Winston Churchill, Jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria, peace services marking the end of the First and the Second World Wars and, most recently, the thanksgiving services for both the Golden Jubilee and 80th birthday of Her Majesty the Queen.
Wren died on 25th February 1723. His gravestone in St Paul’s Cathedral features a Latin inscription which translates as: ‘If you seek his memorial, look about you.’