Review of Freemasonry

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by W.Bro. Martin I.McGregor
Master of the Research Lodge of Southland No.415 (2008).
PM and Secretary The Southern Cross Lodge No.9.
PM Lodge Te Puke No.261.
Companion St.Andrew's Royal Arch Chapter No.90.
Member the Waikato Lodge of Research No.445.
Grand Steward, Freemasons New Zealand.

Paper first delivered to the Research Lodge of Southland No.415. on January 2005.

Christopher_Wren_by_Godfrey_Kneller_1711 Engraved on a simple slab set in the floor of St.Paul’s cathedral directly under the great dome are the words Lector Si Monumentum Requiris Circumspice (Reader, if you seek his monument, look around).  It is the epitaph of Sir Christopher Wren, who lies entombed in the southeast corner of the crypt below alongside his daughter Jane, his sister Susan Holder and her husband William.  But St.Paul’s is not only a monument to Sir Christopher Wren, but also to the era in which he lived – an era of revolutionary changes in almost every aspect of society.  It was an era that saw the titanic struggle between religious factions – on the continent of Europe, thirty years of bitter warfare between Catholics and Protestants and in England a civil war between the High-Church Anglicans and the Puritans, with the independent armies of Scotland and Ireland joining the fray.  It was an era that saw the struggle for power between parliament and the monarchy that resulted for awhile in a dictatorship.  Wren outlived six British monarchs and lived to see a seventh commence his reign.  He had lived to see one monarch beheaded and another exiled and he himself knew the pain of belonging to a family caught up in the political conflicts and persecutions of the age.


But Wren’s era, 17th.Century England, was not just an era of political change, it was also an era of scientific discovery and of exciting developments in the arts and philosophy.  It was the age of Rembrandt, Rubens, van Dyk and Velasquez, of Milton, Descartes, Dryden, and Bunyan and, in architecture, of Bernini, Borromini, da Cortona, Mansart, Le Vau, Longhena and Wren himself, amongst the many geniuses who developed the classical style of architecture know as ‘baroque’.  The era saw changes in fashion, important developments in medicine, new products, materials and foodstuffs from faraway places, the introduction of newspapers, improvements in manufacturing, new mechanical inventions, the development of the telescope and microscope and major breakthroughs in mathematics and astronomy.  The era, which also saw the founding of The Royal Society and the rise of Freemasonry, has been aptly described as a “second renaissance” and we can appropriately regard Sir Christopher Wren as being a quintessential ‘renaissance man’, involved in several branches of science and at the very hub of the scientific and philosophical revolution.


Christopher Wren was born in the Wiltshire village of East Knoyle on 20th.October 1632, the son of Dr.Christopher Wren, rector of that parish and Mary Cox, the daughter of a local landowner.  Baby Christopher had two brothers who died at birth and nine sisters, only six of whom survived into adolescence.  It is typical of the Wren family that virtually nothing is known about the women in the family, whether mothers, wives or daughters.  Baby Christopher’s father, however, was a rising star in the Anglican Church.  As well as East Knoyle he was rector of Fonthill Bishop, also in Wiltshire, and due to the influence of his prominent brother Matthew, was earmarked for greater things.  At the time of young Christopher’s birth Matthew Wren was Chaplain to the Prince of Wales, Dean of Windsor and Registrar of the Order of the Garter.  In 1634 Matthew Wren was ordained as Bishop of Hereford and the following year as Bishop of Norwich.  In 1635, Dr.Christopher Wren succeeded his brother as Dean of Windsor and Registrar of the Order of the Garter, adding the living of Great Hasely in Oxfordshire to his portfolio of parishes.  The careers of Matthew and Christopher Wren became inextricably linked with the cause of the Anglican ‘High Church’ in the developing power struggle with the Calvinist faction, which included the Presbyterians and the so-called Puritans.  It is therefore necessary to elaborate upon the origins of this struggle that had such an impact on the Wren family and on the intelligent mind of Christopher Wren the younger.


 The Anglican Church, or Church of England, which King Henry VIII established as a national branch of the Catholic Church finally emerged as a Protestant church in 1559 when Queen Elizabeth enacted the Act of Supremacy and Uniformity and introduced the Revised Prayer Book.  This left the Anglican Church close to the Catholic viewpoint on essential doctrine but, like other Reformed or Protestant Churches, purged of what were perceived as the non-scriptural “errors” of the Church of Rome.  The liturgy was still recognizably similar to the Catholic Mass and it was left to the individual churchgoer whether he believed or not in the doctrine of transubstantiation, although it was officially repudiated.  The Church of England remained a self-governing body that appointed it’s own bishops and clergy under the protection of the English monarch supported by parliament and under the spiritual leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury supported by his bishops and canons.  However, the ink was barely dry on the Act of Supremacy when its’ authority was challenged by followers within the Anglican Church of the French theologian, John Calvin.


Calvin systemized Protestant doctrine and organized its ecclesiastical discipline with emphasis on the sovereignty of God, the Bible as the sole rule of faith, the doctrine of predestination and justification by faith alone.  During his domicile in Geneva, he demonstrated how it was possible, through his College of Pastors and Doctors and his Consistorial Court of Discipline, to establish a theocracy which could direct all the affairs of a city or state and to control the social and individual life of the citizens.  It is not therefore surprising that monarchs, who had spent centuries beating off Papal claims of feudal superiority, should regard Calvin with deep suspicion.  Suspicion turned to hostility when the Calvinists became more Calvinistic than Calvin himself.  To them, God’s sovereignty meant that monarchs were to obey God’s orders as interpreted by the pastors, as God’s elect representatives.  Equally suspicious of the Calvinists were the bishops and clergy who supported the episcopal system of church government that recognizes the spiritual authority of bishops as successors of St.Peter and their sole right to ordain clergy.  Of the broadly Calvinist groups in England and Scotland, the Puritan faction within the Anglican Church was more concerned with pure theology and the simplification of the liturgy, but the Presbyterians were opposed to episcopacy and more inclined to push for secular as well as spiritual government by a church court comprised of elders and ministers.  The Calvinists placed emphasis on preaching and on the use of a simple table, cups and plates for communion.  They abhorred the used of images of any kind.  Although the Calvinists were committed to bringing about reform within the Anglican Church both Puritans and Presbyterian factions hitched their wagon to parliament as a means to furthering their aims and thus, for the first time, linked parliamentary politics with religion.


Queen Elizabeth I and her successor James I had successfully preserved the episcopal system in England, but Scotland eventually adopted the Presbyterian system.  But all was far from well in the Anglican Church.  By the time of Charles I accession the reaction of some of the bishops against Puritanism had taken the turn of a move towards Catholic liturgical practise and of following the doctrines of Jacobus Arminius.  Again, the Arminians were more Arminian than Arminius himself, but basically they rejected the doctrine of absolute predestination, predestination being open only to believers, who will be saved by God’s grace which is only available through belief.  It was possible to resist grace and loose faith; thus it was a doctrine of free will.  The doctrine was close to that held by the Church of Rome.  The Arminians placed emphasis on the sacraments, especially communion.  Spearheaded by William Laud, the determined and authoritarian Archbishop of Canterbury, the Arminian bishops and clerics, - Matthew and Christopher Wren amongst the most ardent of them, - placed their altars against the east wall behind railings, donned priestly vestments and with their backs to the congregation performed what looked to the scandalized Puritans like a Catholic Mass. The majority of Anglicans at that time tended towards Calvinism, it was thus the Arminians who were the revolutionaries within the Anglican Church.  King Charles, however, made clear his support for the Arminians, thus abandoning the more even-handed policy of his father James I.


Young Christopher Wren was thus born and raised in an Anglican environment that had become polarized.  In an age when religion and politics had become intertwined and in a society wherein the welfare of notable families was usually dependent on the political appointment of its members to lucrative positions, he was to witness the rise and fall of family and friends according to the changing fortunes of the political camps they supported.  But, as we shall see, Christopher Wren himself, no doubt fully aware at a young age of the consequences of political enthusiasm, scrupulously avoided partisanship and consequently made friends of many and enemies of very few.  On the other hand, he owed his fame and fortune, not to his friends and contacts, or to political loyalties, but to his intellectual ability and his personality alone.  He was moreover, a physically small and somewhat frail person who no doubt learned at an early age how to stand up for himself without provoking those capable of doing him harm.


Until the age of nine, Christopher Wren was educated by his father and a domestic tutor, the Reverend William Shepheard, at the Deanery at Windsor.  Then, in 1641, at the age of ten he was went as a boarder to Westminster School which was run by the notorious disciplinarian and staunch Royalist, Richard Busby.  He remained there until, in 1646 he left to rejoin his family, which by that time had been reduced in circumstances as a consequence of the civil war.


In 1638 King Charles, having ruled without Parliament for nine years, made a blunder when he tried to force Arminianism and the Anglican Prayer Book on to Scotland.  This upset the modus vivendi achieved by James I, whereby the Church of Scotland maintained a combination of Episcopal and Presbyterian government.  Scots reaction was sharp – episcopacy was abolished, the Scottish Army crossed the border, occupied Newcastle and heavily defeated an English army sent to relieve the town.  Charles was constrained to sign the Treaty of Ripon in which he agreed to pay the Scots army L850 a day whilst it occupied English soil.  Forced to recall Parliament to fulfill the Treaty, Charles found instead that it was stacked with Puritans and Presbyterians who were intensely resentful of years of Arminianism and Royal rule.  The constitutional crisis came in 1641 when Parliament, by its Grand Remonstrance, demanded what amounted to total control of state and church.  The Civil War began when Charles raised the royal standard at Nottingham on 22 August 1642.


When war broke out, Windsor Castle was held for Parliament by Colonel Venn who did nothing to bother Dean Wren and his family, but in October 1642 a Captain Fogg turned up and promptly looted the Deanery and the Treasury of its plate, the records and registers of the Order of the Garter, and the personal possessions of the Wren family.  The family decamped to East Knoyle only to find that Parliamentarian raiders had extorted the parish rents.  At last, in 1646, Dean Wren was deprived of his position and after trying to make a living as a schoolteacher, he abandoned East Knoyle and took his family to live in the rectory of Bletchingdon in Oxfordshire, which was owned by his son-in-law William Holder.  Bletchingdon became young Christopher Wren’s new home and it was there that he was to meet the girl who was to become his wife, Faith Coghill, daughter of the local squire Sir Thomas Coghill.


Christopher’s education was taken over by William Holder but in 1647 he became seriously ill (possibly with consumption) and was treated by the eminent physician William Scarburgh in London, where he remained at the doctor’s home to convalesce for several months.  Scarburgh was one of a small group of experimental philosophers who met weekly to discuss ‘physick, anatomy, geometry, astronomy, navigation, staticks, magneticks, chymicks, mechanicks and natural experiments’.  The group included William Harvey, Francis Glisson, George Ent and Christopher Merrett, all of them physicians, the mathematicians John Wallis and John Wilkins and the astronomer Samuel Foster.  Wren was allowed into the meetings and it must have made an impression on him that the group comprised of both Royalists and Parliamentarians.  The group agreed to keep off matters of theology and state affairs.


In 1649, at the age of 17, Wren entered Wadham College at Oxford.  Oxford was a natural choice for someone from a Royalist background even though two years prior the Parliamentary Commissioners purged between 400 and 500 members of the university and sacked all but three heads of colleges.  Fortunately the Warden of Wadham, John Wilkins, was liberal and tolerant and Wren obtained his Bachelor of Arts in 1653 and was elected a Fellow of All Souls in the same year.  As a Fellow, Wren first began to demonstrate his remarkable intellectual ability in the science of medicine.  He carried out several experimental splenectomies on dogs but, more importantly, he carried out pioneering work on intravenous injections, also on dogs.  These experiments were publicized by Robert Boyle and led directly to the first attempts at blood transfusion.  But this was not all.  Wren’s interests extended to astronomy, lens grinding, ciphers, fortifications, military engines, submarine navigation, whaling and animal husbandry.  He invented a double-writing instrument, a ribbon weaving machine, a cheap method of embroidering bed hangings, a weather clock, new musical instruments, water pumps, new surveying techniques and a speaking organ.  He was temperamentally inclined towards practical problem solving and one cannot help but compare him with Leonardo da Vinci.


Of considerable significance for the future, was his membership at All Souls of an experimental philosophical club that became known as the ‘Great Club’, which had been founded by the physician William Petty in 1647.  Among its members were John Wilkins, Robert Boyle the younger son of the Earl of Cork, John Evelyn, Sir Paul Neile who was famous for his optical glasses and Matthew and Thomas Wren, the sons of Bishop Wren.  Bishop Wren had been imprisoned in the Tower of London in and remained there until 1660.  In association with this brains trust, Wren continued with his inventions and demonstrated a growing interest in astronomy.  He made use of Sir Paul Neile’s 35ft telescope to make a map of the moon, in the process of which he improved the moving wire eyepiece micrometer used in lunar surveying and also improved the adjustment devices.  He drew up the lunar map on a globe that he made himself, which he eventually presented to King Charles II.  He collaborated with Wilkins in the construction of an 80ft telescope which, however was never completed.  Among his other inventions was a glass walled beehive intended to reveal how bees made honey and an instrument for measuring the moistness and dryness of air.


In 1657, at the age of 25, Wren was appointed Professor of Geometry at Gresham College in London but he swapped with Laurence Roake to become Professor of Astronomy.  His major work was the study of Saturn and he wrote De Corpore Saturni  as a report of his findings, which was mainly the establishment beyond doubt of the rings of Saturn that has been postulated by Christiaan Huygens.  It must be remembered that astronomy was at the forefront of the scientific revolution that was in the process of challenging the old Aristotelian philosophy held by the Church, Catholics and Protestants alike.  As late as 1600 Giordiano Bruno had been burnt at the stake for postulating that there are other worlds in the universe and Galileo had been imprisoned by the Inquisition.  Galileo, in using a telescope to demonstrate that there are infinitely more stars in the universe than appears to the naked eye, contradicted Aristotle’s notion that no new stars could appear.  He also supported the Copernican theory that the Earth and the planets orbited the Sun and denied the Aristotelian theory that the whole universe orbited the Earth.  His response to attacks by the Church was that no scientific position should ever be made an article of faith.  He was put under permanent house arrest in 1633.  Of more recent developments, the first map of the moon had been published in 1645 by Michel Florent van Langren, followed by a better one by Johannes Hevelius of Danzig in 1647.  In 1651 the Jesuit priest Giovanni Riccioli produced a map in which he invented the names still used for lunar features, such as the ‘Ocean of Storms’ and the ‘Sea of Tranquility’.  Wren’s study of the Moon and of Saturn was at the cutting edge of astronomical research.


Wren’s time at Gresham was marked by membership of yet another experimental philosophical club.  Once again John Wilkins, William Petty, Robert Boyle and Sir Paul Neile were involved once again the group was comprised of a mixture of Parliamentarians and Royalists who scrupulously avoided discussion of religious or political matters amongst themselves.  It was this group that was to form the core of the Royal Society in 1661, following the restoration of the monarchy.  In the meantime England was in the grips of Oliver Cromwell and his cabal of radical military officers.


English historians of the 19th. and early 20th centuries fondly portrayed the period of the so-called Commonwealth as the triumph of democracy as represented by Parliament over tyranny as represented by Charles I and his aristocratic supporters.  King Charles was portrayed as an arrogant, foolish fop who received his just deserts from the hands of the levelheaded, selfless Parliamentarians who were fighting for the democratic rights of the common man.  The truth was very different.  By the time of Oliver Cromwell’s death in 1658 the Puritans had illegally tried and executed the King and the Archbishop of Canterbury.  Both trials had been a travesty of justice.  They had abolished the House of Lords and entrusted the government to a Council of Sate of just 41 persons and a Parliament of under 60 members.  They had committed ruthless massacres in Ireland and Scotland.  They – meaning Cromwell and his cabal of army officers – had gone on to purge the Presbyterian majority from Parliament and to create a Parliament of members nominated by the Council of State and not elected by the people.  In 1655 England was placed under marshal law administered by twelve major generals with despotic powers.  High Church Anglicans and Roman Catholics were severely repressed.  Thousands of opponents, or perceived opponents of the regime were executed, imprisoned or deported into slavery without trial.  Eventually, in 1858 Cromwell abolished Parliament altogether and ruled with the assistance of a small military cabal that created a police state, the most hated regime in English history.  However, the constant dread of assassination severely affected Cromwell’s health and he died of a fever on 3rd. September 1658.  Christopher Wren’s beloved father, Dean Christopher Wren died on the 29th.May the same year.


The restoration of the monarchy in 1660 in the person of Charles II was a fresh start for England and an opportunity for the Gresham group to establish a more formal foundation.  It was at a meeting on 28 November 1660 that ‘something was offered about a design of founding a College for the Promoting of Physico-Mathematicall Experimentall Learning according to the Manner in other Countreys, where there were voluntary associations of men into Academies for the advancement of various parts of learning, so that they might do something answerable here for the promoting of Experimentall Philosophy’.  The twelve men present agreed to meet every Wednesday at three at Rooke’s chambers at Gresham or at Balle’s chambers in the Temple.  They appointed Wilkins as chairman, Balle as secretary and William Croone as registrar.  They drew up a list of forty interested parties judged willing and worthy to be admitted to their company.  The twelve founders were John Wilkins, Laurence Rooke, Jonathan Goddard, William Petty, Robert Boyle, Sir Paul Neile, William Balle, Abraham Hill, Viscount Brouncker, Alexander Bruce, Sir Robert Murray and Christopher Wren.  William Croone, who was appointed registrar in absentia, made a thirteenth member.  Further members were rapidly enlisted and Sir Robert Murray approached the king for some means of Royal recognition.  This came with the formation of the Royal Society on 4 September 1661- confirmed by royal charters in 1662 and 1663-the King himself becoming a member.  Lord Brouncker became the Society’s first President, William Balle as Treasurer, John Wilkins and Henry Oldenburg as Secretaries.  A 21-man Council administered the Society.  Christopher Wren was appointed to the Astronomical and Optical Committee, the Mechanical Committee and the committee charged with ‘collecting all the phenomena of nature hitherto observed and all experiments made and recorded’.


It is interesting that the Royal Society was sometimes referred to as ‘Solomon’s House’ or as the ‘Invisible College’.  The ‘Solomon’s House’ reference is evocative of Freemasonry and the ‘Invisible College’ may be a reference to Rosicrucianism.  That there were both Freemasons and Rosicrucians amongst the founders of the Society has led to claims that Freemasonry has Rosicrucian origins.  Of the early members of the Royal Society we can identify Sir Robert Murray, Robert Boyle, Elias Ashmole, John Aubrey as being Freemasons but we will leave the question of Christopher Wren for the meantime.  The initiation of Sir Robert Murray was, in fact, the earliest recorded on English soil when on 20 May 1641 he, as Quartermaster General of the Scottish Army, was initiated into the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel) No.1 during the Scots occupation of Newcastle.  The other initiate on that occasion was Artillery General Alexander Hamilton.  Elias Ashmole was the first recorded English initiate together with Colonel Henry Mainwaring.  Ashmole was initiated in Warrington in Lancashire on 16 October 1646.  It is interesting that Ashmole was a Royalist and his cousin Mainwaring a Parliamentarian.  Ashmole also had Rosicrucian leanings.


The Rosicrucians caused a furor in Europe with the publication in Germany of two manifestos entitled Fama Fraternitatis and Confessio Rosae Crucis in 1614 and 1615 respectively.  An allegorical play entitled The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rozencreuz appeared in 1616.  The Fama details the alleged founding of the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross by one Christian Rozencruez 120 years before as an invisible college of learned philosopher/scientists.  It goes on to call for a universal reformation of religion and science and invites learned men of all lands to support the call and make themselves known to the Fraternity.  The Confessio repeats the same message in stronger language, at the same time attacking the Jesuits.  Paradoxically, it is clear that the Rosicrucians, although they declared themselves to be Lutherans, were deeply mystical and pietistic Christians remarkably like the Jesuits in their religious philosophy.  Something of the flavour of the Rosicrucian message can be had from the following extract – “God has revealed to us in these latter days a more perfect knowledge, both of his Son, Jesus Christ, and of Nature.  He has raised men endued with great wisdom who might renew all the arts and reduce them to perfection, so that man might understand his own nobleness, and why he is called Microcosmos, and how far his knowledge extendeth into Nature.  If the learned were united they might now collect out of the Book of Nature a perfect method of all arts.  But the spread of this new light and truth is impeded by those who will not leave their old courses, being tied to the restricting authority of Aristotle and Galen.”  They were saying – in a nutshell – exactly what Galileo was to repeat twenty years later, that the Church was impeding scientific progress by its insistance on scripture as the absolute arbiter of scientific truth and by adhering to the deductive logic of Aristotle.  The Rosicrucians called for the formation of an international college of learned minds to make breakthroughs in the sciences.


To this day historians have not positively identified the founders of the Rosicrucian movement but they appear to have been partly made up of a group that were based at the court of the Elector Palatine at Heidelburg and partly from England, with some influence in Prague.  The Lutheran pastor Johann Valentin Andrea – who did indeed write the Chemical Wedding – appears as a sort of frontman.  Other names include Michael Maier, Prince Christian of Anhalt, the Duke of Brunswick, the Duke of Wurtemburg, Frederick Elector Palatine (who was married to James I daughter Elizabeth), and John Dee (an alchemist who served as agent 007 in the English secret service).  It was Elector Frederick’s acceptance of the crown of Bohemia that provoked the thirty years war.  There is one other name linked with the Rosicrucians, and one whom the modern Rosicrucians positively assert was the head of the Fraternity – Sir Francis Bacon.


Sir Francis Bacon revolutionized scientific thinking.  In his Novum Organum or Indications Respecting the Interpretation of Nature (1620), Bacon promoted his philosophy that people are the interpreters of nature, that truth is not derived from authority and that knowledge is the fruit of experience.  He contributed to science the research logic known as ampliative inference; a technique of Inductive reasoning which was a fundamental advancement of scientific method.  He promoted the acceptance of accurate observation and experimentation in science and maintained that all prejudices and preconceived attitudes must be abandoned.  In New Atlantis, he suggested the formation of scientific academies and used the term “Solomon’s House’ to describe his model.  It is beyond doubt that the founders of the Royal Society were profoundly influenced by Sir Francis Bacon and that they also were fully aware of Rosicrucian scientific philosophy.  Thomas Vaughan published an English translation of the Fama and Confessio in 1652.  Sir Robert Moray was Vaughan’s patron.  John Wilkins was the Elector Palatine’s chaplain in London.


Thus, in 1661, at the age of twenty-nine, Christopher Wren found himself looking at a new age of enlightenment spreading out before him.  Religious extremism had been thoroughly discredited and there was an almost universal willingness to adopt a more tolerant middle way.  The road ahead was clear for science to discover the hidden mysteries of nature, unfettered by the strictures of archaic ideology and the dictatorship of scripture.  The Gothic age was finally over.


In February 1661, Wren was appointed Savilian Professor of Astronomy at Oxford, the most prestigious post in astronomy in the country.  One of his first acts was to present King Charles with the globe of the moon he had made years before.  Charles accepted the gift with delight, then promptly locked it away in a cupboard.  The Royal Society, somewhat aggrieved that Wren had not presented the globe as a gift from the Society, and now having no lunar globe of their own, commissioned Wren to make another, larger and even better globe.  In spite of promises from Wren, the Society never did get their globe and this was not the only example of Wren’s apparent failure or reluctance to follow through on his ideas and promises.  Another example was his continued medical interests, where he developed theories on muscular action and the constituent parts or air, but left Willis, Robert Boyle and Richard Lowe to resolve then unfinished theories.  He also perfected a clock-operated temperature, wind and rain gauge or meteorgraph but made no attempt put the device into production.  This was typical of Wren, in that he shared his ideas and inventions freely and made few attempts make personal gain by them.  The sole exception was his invention of a machine for weaving nine stockings at once.  He tried to sell the machine to the Hosiers Company for L400, but on being told by them that such machines could put hundreds of people out of work, he smashed the machine up before their very eyes.  It seems that the sheer intellectual satisfaction of solving difficult problems was enough for Wren.  Once he had solved one problem, he moved on to another.  Indeed, with his wide range of interests, he seems to have worked on several different problems at a time, making regular breakthroughs but then passing the ball to others.


Wren’s architectural career began in 1663, when he was commissioned to design a chapel for Pembroke College, Cambridge.  The chapel was a gift to the college from Wren’s uncle Matthew Wren, who had been reinstated as Bishop of Ely in 1660.  Pembroke College Chapel was the first classical style building at either Cambridge or Oxford, and shows an amazing sureness of touch for a first effort.  His next commission, in 1664, was to design the Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford.  The theatre was a gift to the university from Bishop Sheldon of London as an auditorium for holding graduation ceremonies.  Planned like a Greek ampitheatre and with galleries above the auditorium, it is capped with a flat ceiling which features an allegorical painting by William Streeter of the Triumph of Truth and the Arts.  The building is roofed with a system of enormous timber trusses.  Because no single lengths of timber were procurable for the 70ft span tie beams, Wren designed tie beams made up of six interlocking sections clamped together with iron plates and bolts.  Wren’s contemporaries hailed the truss as a marvel of engineering.


Also, in 1663, Wren was appointed a member of a Commission for the repair of St.Paul’s Cathedral, along with Hugh May and Sir Roger Pratt.  Old St.Pauls was a dog’s breakfast of a building that in Wren’s opinion was poorly conceived and poorly built in the first place.  Built in the Gothic style from the 12th.C onwards, it was ‘modified’ by Inigo Jones with the addition of a classical portico and other classical appendages to the west front.  Structurally it was very suspect.  The central tower was on a lean and walls were cracked and bulging in places.  Wren came up with the idea of replacing the central tower with a dome in the classical style and in 1665 set off on a tour of the Paris region of France in order to view the latest in French architecture.


Wren arrived in Paris in July 1665 and returned to London in March 1666, a tour of eight months.  He took in the chateaux of Chantilly and Liancourt by Lemercier, de Vereuil and Vau-le-Vicomte by Le Vau and Mansarts Chateau de Maisons as well as the older palaces of Fontainbleau and St.Germain.  He visited the palace of Versailles, then in the course of construction.  The Luxembourg Palace and the Palace of the Tuilleries had been completed recently.  The palace of the Louvre was nearing completion and the Italian architect Giovanni Bernini had been brought in to design the east wing and Wren was allowed to view his drawings.  Bernini had designed the colonnade around the piazza of St.Peters but he was an arrogant man who soon made enemies in Paris.  His first words to King Louis XIV were “let no-one talk to me about anything small”.  He went on to say that the King’s son was too fat and that the king’s apartments were like those of a woman.  Finally, he called Colbert – the most powerful man in France after the King – “a real bugger” and promptly left France, never to return.  Wren was interested in seeing church architecture, Mansart’s Church of the Val de Grace, Lemerciers Church of the Sorbonne and Le Vau’s St.Sulpice.  During Wren’s absence a plague had raged in London between May and December 1665, costing the lives of an estimated 100,000 persons. 


On his return, Wren submitted his plans for old St.Paul’s, which were accepted in principle on 27 August 1666.  One week later London was on fire.  On 2 September a fire accidentally broke out in a baker’s shop in Pudding Lane.  Fanned by strong east winds the fire raged for three days and destroyed two-thirds of the City of London.  St.Paul’s Cathedral, 88 churches, 44 halls, the Royal Exchange, the Guildhall, the Customs House and 13,200 houses were destroyed.  Between 5 and 11 September Wren ascertained the precise area of devastation, worked out a plan for rebuilding the city and submitted it to King Charles.  There were five other proposals.  On 20 October King Charles appointed Hugh May, Sir Roger Pratt and Christopher Wren as King’s Commissioners for the rebuilding of London.  No radical replanning eventuated due to difficulties redistributing old land titles and compensation issues, so most of the old streets were retained.  But the streets were made wider and the new buildings were constructed of brick or stone


In 1669 Sir John Denham, the King’s Surveyor of Works died and Christopher Wren was appointed in his stead.  The job entailed looking after the fabric of all the Royal buildings apart from Windsor Castle, which had it’s own surveyor, and the Tower of London, which came under the Office of Ordinance.  At that time Whitehall was the main palace.  The Office of Works comprised the King’s Surveyor, the Comptroller, the Paymaster, Master Mason, and Master Carpenter.  All of the above served on the Board of Works.  In addition there were the Master Joiner, Plumber, Glazier, Sculptor, Blacksmith, the Sergeant Painter, Sergeant Plumber and a Clerk of Works for each Royal building.  Wren received an annual salary of L382 5s 8d, a rent-free house with garden, coach-house and office at Scotland Yard and an official residence in Hampton Court Palace.  No wonder he married his old sweetheart Faith Coghill the same year.  His first job as Surveyor was to design the new Custom’s House, which he did in twenty-four hours!


A second rebuilding Act in 1670 paved the way for rebuilding 51 of the 88 churches lost in the Great Fire and Wren was put in charge.  The rebuilding commenced with St.Dunstan-in-the-East in 1670 and finished with the steeple of St.Stephen Walbrook in 1717.  But what should an Anglican Church be like?  No new churches had been built for a very long time and there had been recent arguments over the position of the altar.  Fortunately, since the Civil War the Anglican Church had decided on a middle path between the Arminian and Puritan extremes.  Thus Wren designed most of the churches on simple rectangular plan.  The altar was placed behind a low railing on the east wall and the pulpit in a prominent position between the congregation and the choir.  Everything was planned so that the congregation could hear and see and participate in the service and upstairs galleries were often featured.  Large windows allowed excellent natural light and the walls and ceilings were usually plain white.  Nearly every church had a belltower with steeple.  Only six of the churches were designed entirely by Wren, but he had overall responsibility for them all.


We now come to the extraordinary story of the building of the new St.Paul’s Cathedral.  In July 1668, Wren got the call to design a new St.Paul’s, at the same time there was a Royal Order to demolish the old cathedral.  Wren was provided with a suite of rooms in the Chapter House.  Henry Woodroffe was appointed Assistant Surveyor and John Tillison Paymaster and Clerk of Works.  Some of the stones and the lead were recycled and eventually 45,000 tons of rubble were carted away for use on the roads.  The First Model for St.Paul’s was completed in the winter of 1669/70 but the design was not considered stately enough, so a new design was prepared over the winter of 1671/72.  The new design featured a massive circular central area beneath a huge dome.  Four equal sized naves or wings spread out from the central area forming a Greek cross.  St.Peter’s Basilica in Rome was built on a similar plan until Carlo Maderna reluctantly extended the nave.  King Charles finally approved the Greek Cross design a year later, with instructions to build a large model.


In the meantime demolition of old St.Paul’s had reached a standstill.  The four pillars of the crossing-tower, each 14ft across, were proving impervious.  Wren brought in a gunner from the Tower of London and having got labourers to hack out a recess in the base of the northwest tower, packed the hole with 18lb of gunpowder.  The powder train was lit and the resultant explosion brought down the whole northwest angle of the tower along with the two arches that rested on it and parts of the adjoining aisles – some 3000 tons of masonry!  Delighted, Wren left Woodroffe to blow up the rest of the tower, but Woodroffe overdid the gunpowder, sending showers of masonry into the surrounding houses.  Dean Sancroft forbade any further explosions, so Wren came up with battering rams, which worked very well.


In November 1673, King Charles warranted the appointment of a Royal Commission for the Rebuilding of St.Paul’s Cathedral.  The Commission consisted of the Dean and three residentiary canons of the chapter, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and five other bishops, the Lord Chancellor, Lord Treasurer, two Secretaries of State, Christopher Wren, The Lord Mayor London, City Chamberlain, City Recorder and the Aldermen, plus a long list of Privy Councilors, Judges and Officers of the Royal Household.  The quorum was six.  On 14 November King Charles knighted Wren at five in the morning.  Wren duly stood for the Oxford University Parliamentary seat, but lost. 


Wren completed his Great Model of a modified Greek Cross design in October 1674.  The model was large enough to walk through and can still be viewed at St.Paul’s.  To Wren’s surprise and disappointment, the clergy didn’t like it!  The Bishops and Canons were used Gothic cathedrals with long naves and choirs for processions and a fair bit of separation between congregation and clergy.  They weren’t ready for a ‘church-in-the-round’ concept.  Besides they liked to have two towers at the west front (Jachin and Boaz?) and a steeple.  Wren accordingly came up with a new design in the spring of 1675.  Called the ‘Warrant Design’, the plan features a long nave with parallel aisles, a long choir with the altar on the east wall and two transepts, thus forming a Latin Cross.  There was a large circular space at the crossing under an interesting double dome topped by a tall pagoda-like steeple.  The west front had a portico flanked by two towers.  The clergy liked it and King Charles quickly issued a warrant for the design on 14 May 1675 but “the King was pleased to allow Wren the liberty in the prosecution of his work, to make variations, rather ornamental than essential, as from time to time he should see proper’.  It is hard to believe Wren intended to carry out the Warrant Design and that the King was not in on the scam.


The foundation stone was laid by master mason Thomas Strong on 21 June 1675; the second foundation stone by master carpenter John Langland.  The edifice that gradually rose behind the hoarding and scaffolding bore little resemblance to the warrant design, but it retained the Latin Cross plan, the central dome and the towers and portico to the west front.  The great dome is a wonder of engineering.  The inner dome or ceiling of stone has a circular opening that admits light from skylights in the outer dome high above.  Above the inner dome, a brick cone supports the 850 ton stone lantern whilst the outer dome of lead is supported by timber framework.  On 26 October 1708 Christopher Wren junior, witnessed by Edward Strong along with other ‘Free and Accepted Masons’ set the final stone in place on top of the lantern.  Sir Christopher Wren remained on the ground 360 feet below – he was seventy-six.


Other monuments to Wren’s genius are to be found in the Emmanuel College Chapel and Trinity College Library at Cambridge, The Monument, The Royal Observatory, Chelsea Hospital, Greenwich Hospital and major extensions to Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace.  A new palace at Winchester was nearing completion when Charles II died.  Of the many houses attributed to Wren, only Marlborough House in London can be definitely attributed to him, but his pupil Nicholas Hawksmoor was to design some of the greatest houses in England.  Wren kept up his interest in the Royal Society and served as President 1681-82.  In 1677 he and Robert Hooke founded a new philosophical club that became known as the ‘Saturday Club’ which met in secret.  He was the Member of Parliament for Old Windsor in1680, 1689 and 1690.


Information about Sir Christopher’s family life is scarce.  Not that he was particularly protective of his privacy, for it is known that his wide circle of friends regularly visited his home, but simply because nobody, including himself and his son Christopher, thought to write much about it.  Sir Christopher and Lady Faith Wren had two sons, Gilbert born in October 1672 died when seventeen months old, and Christopher born February 1675.  Faith Wren died of smallpox in September 1675.  In February 1677, Sir Christopher married Jane Fitzwilliam, daughter of Viscount Fitzwilliam of Lifford.  A daughter, Jane was born in November 1677 and an intellectually handicapped son William, born in June1679.  Lady Jane Wren died in 1680.  Of his circle of friends, the brilliant mathematician Robert Hooke was closest to him.  Robert Hooke assisted Wren in his work and seems to have acted as a sounding board for Wren’s ideas.


Having worked for King Charles for thirty years, Sir Christopher was to work for three employers in the last ten years of his working life.  When Charles II died of a stroke in 1685 he left 10 surviving illegitimate children (4 of them boys), but no legitimate heirs by his wife Katherine of Braganza.  The throne was thus left to his brother James, who had converted to Roman Catholicism in 1670.  Wren promptly stood for Parliament and was elected as a court member for the Devon electorate of Plympton St.Maurice.  This makes Sir Christopher Wren a Tory MP and thereby a supporter of the Monarchy and the Anglican High Church, rather than a Whig, or proponent of the Low Church and opponent of Catholic succession at any price.  Sir Christopher sat on no less than eleven parliamentary committees, included the one that imposed the death penalty on the Duke of Monmouth after his failed rebellion.  Wren’s foray into politics seems to be uncharacteristically risking in view of the train of events, indeed he seems to have lent himself to the King’s attempt to stack Parliament with High Church Anglicans and Catholics.


 James II had a very different personality to his outgoing and casual brother.  Although James was very honest, forthright and able, he devoid of humour, extremely moralistic and autocratic and he lost no time in re-introducing the Declaration of Indulgence that Charles I had been forced to repeal in 1672, removing the penal laws on freedom of worship  for Roman Catholics and dissenting Protestants and removing restrictions on them holding public office.  Although James did not, in fact, have a plan to forcibly convert the English to Catholicism, it was all too much for the Anglicans and, following the birth of a male heir to the throne, the Whigs invited William, Prince of Orange and his wife Mary, daughter of James II, both Protestants, to seize the throne.  Wren does not seem to have suffered any disadvantage from his apparent allegiance to James II, for he was the Member of Parliament for Old Windsor in 1789 and 1790, he kept his job and was commissioned to design large extensions to Hampton Court Palace.


 From around 1700 Sir Christopher began to loose his grip on the Office of Works.  Young, ambitious men were keen to show their metal and were quick to point out inefficiencies and suspect dealing in the Office.  Over the course of several Inquiries and re-shuffles Wren was gradually marginalised and deprived of much of his former power.  With the accession of King George I came the triumph of the Whig party and it was only a matter of time before the old Tory was replaced.  It came when William Benson, a corrupt and obnoxious amateur architect, used his influence at court to plot Sir Christopher’s downfall.  George I, himself an uncouth and rapacious opportunist, fell for Benson’s scheming and cancelled Wren’s patent on 26 April 1718.  Sir Christopher had served 49 years as the King’s Surveyor.


William Benson only lasted one year as Surveyor, having shown total incompetence and a propensity for corruption, but Wren was not recalled.  Instead, he lived out a quiet retirement in his pleasant house at Hampton Court overlooking the river.  Wren had a second house in St James’s Street, and it was there, on 25 February 1723, he died at the age of 91.  The following week he was buried with great and solemn ceremony in the crypt below the Choir of St.Pauls.


Wren’s alleged membership of the Craft is controversial.  Up until the 1914 edition, the United Grand Lodge of England Year Book’ listed Sir Christopher Wren as having been a Grand Master prior to 1717, but after 1914 his name was dropped.  The pre-1914 year books followed the list published by Dr.James Anderson in the historical section of his second edition of the Book of Constitutions  published in 1738, which also included some details of Wren’s alleged Masonic career.  Anderson’s account was not challenged until Robert Gould completed his History of Freemasonry in 1887.


According to Anderson, Wren was Grand Warden at the General Assembly of 27 December 1663, the Earl of St.Albans being Grand Master and Sir John Denham, Deputy Grand Master.  The other Grand Warden was John Webb.  Wren was then Grand Warden under the Earl Rivers, then sometime after Deputy Grand Master until 1685.  In 1685 he replaced Lord Arlington as Grand Master and he Gabriel Cibber and Edmund Savage as Grand Wardens.  At some point he was succeeded by the Duke of Richmond and Lennox under whom he reverted to Grand Warden but was again Grand Master from 1698 until 1716.  Anderson states that “the Lodges of London finding themselves neglected by Sir Christopher Wren” Masonry was revived under a new Grand Master.”


Of the persons mentioned in the account, Sir John Denham was the King’s Surveyor General 1660-69 and John Webb was Deputy Surveyor, not Wren as some Masonic authors would have it.  Wren replaced Denham as Surveyor General and John Webb went into semi-retirement.  The Earl of St.Albans was a diplomat and a close friend of Charles I’s Queen Henriette Marie.  He was responsible for the development of the St.James Field precinct of London and in 1676 laid the foundation stone of St.James Piccadilly, of which Wren was the architect.  Gabriel Cibber was a sculptor who produced several works for Wren’s buildings.  The Earl of Arlington was a controversial chief minister of state to Charles II from 1667 until 1674 when he resigned and became lord chamberlain.  Of considerable interest is the Duke of Richmond and Lennox.  Anderson is not quite right – he was in fact Charles Lennox, Duke of Richmond and Duke of Aubigny and he was an illegitimate son of Charles II by Louise de Kerouaille.  It is interesting that the commencement of Wren’s first term as Grand Master coincided with the accession of James II and with Wren’s own foray into politics.

            Of especial interest is the entry in John Aubray’s Naturell Historie of Wiltshire under the year 1691 as follows:-       

            This day, May the 18th, being Monday, 1691, after Rogation Sunday, is a great convention at St.Paul’s Church of

            the Fraternity of the Adopted Masons, where Sir Christopher Wren is to adopted a Brother, and Sir Henry Goodric

            of the Tower, and divers others.  There have been kings that have been of this sodality


Gould, writing in the nineteenth century, the accounts of these two contemporaries of Wren before him, cast doubts upon the veracity of Wren’s membership of the Craft.  Whilst Gould did not go as far as to dismiss Aubray’s entry as erroneous, he asserted that it was an addendum to the original version without, however, alleging that anyone other than Aubray made the addendum.  His main assault was on Anderson.  Why, he asks, was Wren’s masonic career not mentioned in the first Book of Constitutions, where he is referred to only as “the ingenious architect, Sir Christopher Wren”?  He also pours scorn on Anderson’s history of Freemasonry as a fanciful work that includes a fictitious list of supposed Grand Masters prior to 1717 and that, in fact, there were no Grand Masters prior to the formation of the Grand Lodge in that year.  He also points out that Christopher Wren Jnrs family history Parentalia, (published 1750) contains not the slightest indication that his father was a member of the Craft.  Gould brushes aside contemporary newspaper references to Wren as a Freemason at the time of his death.  Gould does concede however, that since Aubray’s Natural History of Wiltshire was not published until 1844, Anderson could not have known about it and thus the two accounts are completely independent, but are nevertheless contradictory.


On 29 September 1721 Grand Lodge ordered Dr.Anderson to “digest the old Gothic Constitutions in a new and better method”.  He was assisted by Dr.Desaguliers and George Payne.  The material on hand was mainly from the archives of the four old London lodges that had formed a Grand Lodge in 1717.  On 27 December 1721 Grand Lodge appointed a committee of fourteen to examine and report on the work.  Their report was made on 25 March 1722 and after a few amendments Anderson’s work was approved and ordered to be printed, which was done in 1723.  The Book of Constitutions consisted of the Ancient Charges, the General Regulations  and a history of architecture, not, strictly speaking a history of Freemasonry.  In 1735 Grand Lodge ordered Dr.Anderson to prepare a new edition of the Book of Constitutions that was to include a list of patrons of the craft prior to 1717 and it is this edition, published in 1738, that gives details of Sir Christopher Wren’s alleged Masonic career.  By the time of the 1738 edition records from other pre-1717 lodges would have been available.


Dr.Anderson was undoubtedly an amateur and inexperienced historian, although he was a competent genealogist.  His efforts are typical of the times in showing a lack of discernment and analysis in examining the material he had to hand and this becomes increasingly apparent the further back in time he delves.  However, there is no reason to presume that his recording of the events of the 57 years between the Restoration and the formation of Grand Lodge must be suspect simply because his treatment of the medieval period.  What is more, as an outsider, a Scots immigrant and a minister of the dissenting Presbyterian Church, he would have had no pre-conceived or biased ideas in approaching his task.  Dr.Anderson simply collated the documentary information he had to hand.  The persons listed as Grand Masters, Wardens etc. in the post-Restoration period are perfectly plausible and not the kind of persons Anderson would have picked at random.  He would have had no motive or reason to invent a fiction, especially with his work being subject to checking, but it is true that he misapplied the term Grand Master or Grand Warden to those who were more likely Patrons, Superintendants or Masters of Works.


Sir Christopher Wren was still alive when the first edition of the Book of Constitutions was finalized although he died before it was published.  There could be two reasons why Wren’s masonic connections were not mentioned in the first edition.  Firstly, England was in the grip of a new Royal dynasty and Whig ascendancy but in1715 there had been a failed but alarming uprising in support of James II’s son, also called James, and it was believed by George I and his Whig supporters that a Jacobite threat still lingered.  To the Whigs there was little difference between Jacobite and Tory and it was also known that several of the Jacobites in exile were Freemasons.  Whilst there is no evidence that any of the English Freemasons had overt Jacobite sympathies the Craft’s strong past association with the House of Stuart was a potential source of embarrassment for the Grand Lodge.  It is thus possible that the Grand Lodge decided to play down any association with such a prominent Tory as Sir.Christopher Wren.


 The second, more compelling reason may be deduced from the fact that the second edition of the Book of Consitutions contains criticism of Wren.  In it, Anderson writes “Sir Christopher Wren neglected the office of Grand Master” and that, in 1716, “the Lodges in London finding themselves neglected by Sir Christopher Wren,” Masonry was revived under a new Grand Master.  In other words, Wren was dumped!  It is therefore quite likely that after 1716, Wren’s relationship with the Craft was acrimonious.  Whether or not the relationship was acrimonious, the Grand Lodge, out of respect for Wren, may have elected not to refer to a Masonic career that ended in his rejection, whilst the omission served the double-purpose of avoiding mention of an embarrassing association between the Craft and a prominent Tory.  No such constraint would have been necessary in the preparation of the second edition of the Constitutions, Wren being long dead and the English Freemasons having done enough to prove their loyalty to the incumbent Hanoverian monarchy, but publication of criticism of Wren is nevertheless likely to have offended his family.


Christopher Wren Jnr. is believed to have completed his draft of Parentalia by 1741, which was eventually published by Stephen Wren (grandson of Sir Christopher) in 1750.  By that time there had been another, far more serious Jacobite rebellion against the Hanoverian/Whig government and, once again, rebellion had been largely orchestrated by Jacobite exiles who were also Freemasons.  In addition, since the Bull In Eminenti of Pope Clement XII in 1738, there had been growing opposition to and persecution of Freemasonry that was not confined to Catholic countries.  It is feasible that the Wren family omitted any mention of Wren’s masonic career because, firstly, they were stung by the criticism of Sir Christopher in the Constitutions and, secondly, were concerned about public reaction. 


Before examining the apparent disagreement between Anderson’s account and Aubray’s, the Rev.J.W.Luaghlin’s lecture on the life of Wren, following Preston, bears a mention.  In it he states “Wren was for eighteen years a member of the old Lodge of St.Paul’s, then held at the Goose and Gridiron, near the Cathedral, now the Lodge of Antiquity; and the records of that Lodge show that the maul and trowel used at the laying of the stone of St.Paul’s, together with a pair of carved mahogany candlesticks, were presented by Wren, and are now in possession of that Lodge.”


As a hypothesis, it is tempting to suggest that the old St.Paul’s Lodge was founded as an operative lodge at the commencement of the rebuilding of St.Paul’s Cathedral in 1675.  Alternatively, it may have been founded in the 1630’s when the Cathedral was extensively renovated by Inigo Jones and following the completion of those works remained in existence to maintain and repair the fabric of the building.  The operative operations of the St.Paul’s Lodge would have come to an end with the completion of the Cathedral in 1710 by which time there would have been sufficient “accepted” members to continue the speculative work of the lodge that was eventually to be called the Lodge of Antiquity.  Just such an injection of ‘accepted’ members, including Sir Christopher Wren, appears to have occurred at the convention recorded by Aubray in 1691, which was stated as the foundation year of the Old St. Paul’s Lodge, or No.1, according to the Grand Lodge Engraved List of Lodges of 1729.  If we take the alleged 18 years of Wren’s membership of St.Paul’s Lodge from the convention of 1691 we arrive at 1709, which is close enough to the date of completion of the Cathedral considering that the setting of the cap-stone in 1708 must have marked the effective completion of the mason’s major work.


The Master of Old St.Paul’s Lodge between 1675 and 1680, would undoubtedly have been Thomas Strong, head of the family of six mason sons of Valentine Strong, Master Mason of St.Paul’s and a member of the Worshipful Company of Masons, one of the old Livery Companies or guilds of the City of London.  After 1680, Edward Strong would have taken over as Master.  The Masons Company was incorporated in 1411 and received its original grant of arms in 12th.year of Edward IV (1472/73).  The Masons Company’s hall and its records having been destroyed in the Fire of London in 1666, the Company was reincorporated on 17 September 1677.  A proviso to the articles of incorporation banned the Company from interfering with the works at St.Paul’s Cathedral.  The Company did, however, conduct a search of St.Paul’s and found several ‘foreigners’ working there.  Some of these men were subsequently made members of the Company or issued with licenses.  It is known that Thomas Strong had brought into London masons from his quarries in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire.  Four of Thomas Strong’s brothers were made members of the Mason’s Company between 1680 and 1690.  However, neither Wren nor any of his associates in the Royal Society were members of the Company and, although the Company admitted non-operatives, there is no evidence that speculative freemasonry originated from it.


In conclusion, whilst it is highly likely Sir Christopher Wren was a member of the Old St.Pauls Lodge between 1691 and 1709, he was never a Grand Master or Deputy Grand Master.  It is possible that he was Master of the Old St.Pauls Lodge at some point and it is also possible, considering the masonic company he kept, that he had been made a Freemason in some other lodge considerably earlier than his acceptance into Old St.Pauls..  But, without doubt, Wren was a towering genius of English architecture, a man of brilliant intellect and diverse talents who was admired and respected by those in the building trade as a great master of the works and patron of the craft.  He was the King’s Architect and, some say, the greatest English architect of all.  As Hugh Chesterman put it:-


                        Clever men like Christopher Wren

                        Only occur just now and then

                        No one expects in perpetuity

                        Architects of his ingenuity

                        No, never a cleverer dipped his pen

                        Than clever Sir Christopher – Christopher Wren





Christopher Wren born East Knoyle, Wiltshire


Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford


Professor of Astronomy, Greasham College


Savilian Professor of Astronomy at Oxford. Degree Doctor of Civil Law.  Founder Member of Royal Society


Appointed Member of Commision for repair of St.Paul’s Cathedral


Pembroke College Chapel, Cambridge


Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford


Visit to Paris Plan for rebuilding London.  Appointed Commissioner for rebuilding London


Report on Salisbury Cathedral


Emmanuel College Chapel, Cambridge


Made Surveyor-General of the King’s Works.  Married Faith Coghill


The Customs House, London


Started St.Dunstan-in-the-East, St.Vedast Foster Lane, St.Mary at Hill, St.Edmund King and Martyr, St.Mary-le-Bow, St.Bride Fleet Street.


Started St.Magnus Martyr, The Monument, St.Lawrence Jewry, St.Nicholas Cole Abbey.


St.Stephen Walbrook


Great Model for St.Paul’s.  Wren Knighted.


The Royal Observatory, Greenwich.  Birth of a son, Christopher


St.Paul’s Cathedral


St.James Garlickhythe


Trinity College Library, Cambridge


Second marriage, to Jane Fitzwilliam. Started St.Agnes and St.Anne, St.Benet, St.Martin, St.Swithin, Christ Church.




Started St.Clement Danes, St.Anne Soho.


Tom Tower, Christ Church, Oxford.


Wren President of the Royal Society.


St.Mary Abchurch.




Chelsea Hospital


Winchester Palace


Whitehall Palace, Chapel and Privy Gallery


St.Michael Paternoster Royal.


Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace.


Whitehall Palace, The Queens Apartments.


St.Vedast steeple.


Greenwich Hospital


St.Dunstan-in-the-East steeple


Whitehall Palace, rebuilding schemes after fire.


Repairs to Westminster Abbey


Steeples for St.Bride, Christ Church, St.Magnus Martyr, St.Edmund King and Martyr.


Marlborough House.


Steeples for St.Michael Paternoster Royal, St.James Garlickhythe, St.Stephen Walbrook


Wren deprived of title of Surveyor-General.


Death of Sir Christopher Wren.



His Invention so Fertile.  Adrian Tinniswood.  2001  Jonathan Cape.

The Great Fire of London.  Stephen Porter.  1996  Sutton.

The English Civil War.  Tristram Hunt.  2002  Weidenfeld & Nicholson.

Restroration Lonson.  Liza Picard.  1997  Phoenix.

The Stuart Age.  Barry Cowerd.  1980  Longman

Revolution, Reaction and the Triumph of Conservatism.  R.Graves/R.H.Silcock.  1984 Longman Paul

Wren.  Margaret Whinney.  1971 Thames & Hudson.

The Rosicrusian Enlightenment.  Frances A.Yates. 1975 Paladin

British Kings & Queens.  Mike Ashley. 1998 Carroll & Graf

London.  Felix Barker & Peter Jackson.  1974  MacMillan

1688 Revolution in the Family.  Henri & Barbara van der Zee. 1988 Viking

Charles II.  Maurice Ashley.  1971  Weidenfeld and Nicholson.

A History of Western Architecture.  David Watkin.  1986  Thames &  Hudson.

The Pocket History of Freemasonry.  Fred L.Pick & G.Norman Knight.  1992ed.  Hutchinson

A History of Architecture.  Sir Bannister Fletcher.  1938  Batsford

An Outline of European Architecture.  Nikolaus Pevsner.  1943  Pelican

The Penguin Dictionary of Architecture.  John Fleming/Hugh Honour/Nikolaus Pevsner.  1966  Penguin.

A Short Critical History of Architecture.  H.Heathcote Statham.  1912  Batsford

An Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry.  Albert G.Mackey/William J.Hughan/Edward L.Hawkins.  1924 The Masonic History Co.

The History of Freemasonry.  Robert Freke Gould.  T.C. & E.C.Jack

Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Encarta Encyclopaedia.  Microsoft.

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