The magnificence, uniqueness and iconic status of St Paul’s Cathedral can be pinned to the remarkable talents of one individual – Sir Christopher Wren. When Wren died in his 91st year, he was buried in St Paul’s, with part of his epitaph reading, “If you seek his memorial, look about you.”
By the time this monumental symbol of London was completed in 1710, Wren was already 78 years old. After St Paul’s was finished the legendary architect actually started to work on the great West Towers of Westminster Abbey, with his pupil, Nicholas Hawksmoor. Sir Christopher Wren died before the towers were finished but his inimitable legacy has lived on in mortar and stone.
St Paul’s Cathedral may have been Christopher Wren’s more famous architectural achievement but this prolific architect was responsible for many other fine works.
The great fire of London
Medieval London was two-thirds destroyed by the great fire in 1666, but opportunity was left in the ashes for an inspiring and up and coming architect, who was found in the name of Christopher Wren.
Wren contributed significantly to the revival of London’s ash-strewn streets and was responsible for building 52 new churches. St Brides, Fleet Street, St Mary, Le Bow, St James, Piccadilly, St Clement Danes, St Benet’s, and St Margaret Patten’s, are a small selection of Sir Christopher Wren’s churches which are all well worth a visit.
Other utterly impressive and better known Christopher Wren architectural creations in London that you simply cannot afford to miss include the Royal Naval College, the Royal Observatory and the Royal Hospital, all of which are in Greenwich, Kensington Palace, the south front of Hampton Court Palace, and Temple Bar. Although these iconic London landmarks, as impressive as they may be, will always of course be overshadowed by St Paul’s Cathedral.
Whilst some suggest that the White House in Washington D.C drew inspiration from St Paul’s, others insist that Wren would never have come up with the incredible design of the Cathedral had he not visited Paris in 1665.
Whether he was the inspirational or the inspired, we cannot deny that the London landscape would not be as we know and love if it had not been for the legendary Sir Christopher Wren and particularly his post Great Fire of London work.