When Wren Ride: A cycle tour of Wren’s London masterpieces

Posted on: May 23rd, 2023 by wrenEditor

Here’s a great day on your bike visiting Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpieces in London.

Our ride starts at Hampton Court, a royal palace that is most famous for its Tudor architecture and connections with Henry VIII. Less well known is the baroque palace, designed by our hero, and built for William and Mary in 1689. Err, you’re not going to be able to avoid history on this ride, sorry!

Hampton Court is surrounded by parkland, creating a lovely way to ride to Kingston, en route there’s a stop at the end of the Long Water for one of the best vistas of the palace. Ride on through busy Kingston using the excellent network of bike paths and quiet roads into Richmond Park. Join the Tamsin Trail around the park to Roehampton Gate, before crossing Barnes Common and reaching the Thames again at Putney.

Your first view of Chelsea Hospital, home of the famous red-coated Chelsea Pensioner is from the river and it’s worth a stop before riding along to the ‘front entrance’.

Back on your bike, past Buckingham Palace (nothing to do with Wren) and along Birdcage Walk to join the new bike routes around Westminster Square leading to the traffic-free super cycle route alongside the river.

Taking advantage of the newly pedestrianised Aldwych (which is in my opinion, pretty impressive), ride past St Clement Danes Church, often recognised as one of Wren’s finest City Churches. Carry on down the now peaceful Fleet St to approach the magnificent west façade of St Paul’s Cathedral.

With virtually empty roads and loads to discover, riding through the City of London on a Sunday is a cyclist’s dream and no Wren ride worth its salt would miss the Monument, the fantastic monument topped with blazing gilded ball fire. Although technically marking the site of an inept baker, it’s a homage to our champion!

Leaving the confines of the City, the route becomes more Dickensian, following cycle paths around St Katherine’s Dock, with great views of Tower Bridge and along the cobbled streets of Wapping High St heading east to join the Thames at Canary Wharf.

At the southerly tip of the Isle of Dogs, don’t rush to the Greenwich foot tunnel, rather ride on through Island Gardens for the best view of the Old Royal Naval Hospital with its colonnades framing the Queen’s House.

Then walk through the foot tunnel, and exit right in front of the past Cutty Sark. You may be desperate for that cup of tea, but it’s worth walking your bike along the river for the best views of the Old Royal Naval College and then make your way to the Undercroft Cafe and a well-earned Cream Tea. 

After tea take a moment to explore this wonderful building, apart from the colonnades framing Queens House, there’s the Painted Hall, a skittle alley or find the patriotic courtyard!

  • 26 miles/42 km
  • 760 ft | 230 m climb
  • 40% off-road on well-maintained paths
  • Easy Ride suitable for all types of bikes


  • GPX Route Map
  • Cream tea at the Old Royal Naval Hospital
  • Brief historical guide of each of the main buildings on the route
  • Feed stop with a mechanic

Wren300 @ Ingestre

Posted on: May 12th, 2023 by wrenEditor

12:00 – Picnic Lunch

Bring a Picnic. Sandwiches, Sandwiches Tea & Cakes can be purchased

13:30 – Welcome

The Rt Hon The Earl of Shrewsbury & Talbot DL.

14:00 – Speaker – Harry Mount

Harry Mount will talk on Sir Christopher Wren Churches

15:00 – Guided tour of the Church

Anthony Young will take you on a tour of the Wren Church

16:00 – Purcell Concert in the Church

Chetwynd Performing : Henry Purcell ‘An Evening Hymn’

Sung by Valerie Martin accompanied by Jenny Hames.

‘Thou Knowest Lord the Secrets of our Hearts’

Sung by Chetwynd. Musical Director, Olly Lees. Conducted by Gill Dunn.

Sponsored By RIBA & North Staffordshire Society of Architects.

Walking tour of Wren’s City of London with Harry Mount

Posted on: May 12th, 2023 by wrenEditor

300 years ago, Britain’s greatest architect, Sir Christopher Wren, died at the age of 90, just as his finest work, St Paul’s Cathedral, was completed.

Join Harry Mount, architectural historian and editor of The Oldie, for a walking tour of Wren’s London, from St Paul’s to his fabulous City Churches, built after the Great Fire of London.

Includes lunch (and wine) in Middle Temple Hall, the best Elizabethan building in London.



11am: Meet Harry Mount outside the main western entrance of St Paul’s Cathedral

1pm: Two-course lunch in Middle Temple Hall

Tickets are £135 (inc VAT) per person, including lunch with wine.

Limited to 20 people.

Guarantee a place with Katherine by emailing reservations@theoldie.co.uk or calling 01225 427 311 (Monday-Friday)

Wren’s Innovative Schools: A collaboration between architect and merchant.

Posted on: May 11th, 2023 by wrenEditor

An illustrated lecture by Fred Steward, Emeritus Professor, School of Architecture & Cities. University of Westminster.


In the 1690s, the East India Company merchant Sir John Moore endowed the construction of two new school buildings: the Appleby Free School in the central Midlands, and the Writing School at Christ’s Hospital in the City of London.  Both involved Sir Christopher Wren in their design, and had an innovative schoolroom with long bench desks for large classes of over 100 pupils.


How did these two strikingly different people find a common cause in building a new type of schoolroom?   Wren was an intellectual prodigy with a metropolitan High Church background;  Moore was a pragmatic businessman with provincial midlands Puritan roots.  Both lived in the age of a commercial revolution in global maritime trade which drove the prosperity of London.  Their links developed in the 1680s and 1690s through Christ’s Hospital school for poor children in the City of London. They shared an interest in educational innovation and in widening access to learning: a need was seen for writing and drawing skills for business which were unmet by traditional schooling, and a new kind of schoolroom was developed.




Wren and Greenwich: A Celebratory SAHGB Study Day and Walking Tour

Posted on: April 27th, 2023 by wrenEditor

Led by David McKinstry and accompanied by a range of highly-regarded experts, we will take a group to explore Wren’s work on foot, examining the context of royal connections to Greenwich, institutional and political functions and the later uses of sites and buildings. This is a day-long walking tour, with visits to several sites and lunch at the Trafalgar Tavern. It gives a rare opportunity to study original early 19th century plans for the town centre.

This promises to be a highly engaging and comprehensive day which, although focusing on Wren, takes in the work of other artists and architects of this unique area and has much to offer anyone interested in the history of Greenwich and the architecture of the seventeenth-nineteenth centuries.

Places are limited to 40 and must be booked in advance at www.sahgb.org.uk/whatson


The English Leonardo or a jobbing builder?

Posted on: April 6th, 2023 by wrenEditor

You think HS2 is taking a long time?

Take a walk round the City and find out how Christopher Wren and friends managed the task of rebuilding a whole city devastated by the Great Fire of London.

The fire gave them great opportunities but great challenges as well.

How did they cope?

Please note: children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

When: 19 April  – 20 September 2023, 10.30, on alternate Wednesdays

City Guides are the Official Guides to the City of London. They are qualified, accredited and insured.  https://www.cityoflondonguides.com/

Fire and Faith – Guided Walk

Posted on: April 6th, 2023 by wrenEditor

Fire and Faith – Guided Walk

Wren was a child prodigy and a polymath. He excelled in many disciplines and at the age of thirty, he could have pursued a number of careers with equal virtuosity. Fortunately for us, he eventually made a career in architecture and the design of major public buildings.

This tour is round the eastern half of the City of London focussing on the Great Fire, the aftermath and the changing appearance of the City.

Please note: children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

City Guides are the Official Guides to the City of London. They are qualified, accredited and insured.  https://www.cityoflondonguides.com/

12 April  – 27 September 2023, 10.30, on alternate Wednesdays

The Oxford of Christopher Wren

Posted on: April 5th, 2023 by wrenEditor

Known to millions as the architect of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, Christopher Wren’s early years were spent in Oxford where he arrived at Wadham College as a ‘gentleman commoner’ in 1649/50. This tour will start from Wadham and stroll past the Garden Quad at Trinity College, which was originally designed by Wren in the 1660s. In the same decade (and while working as the Savilian Professor of Astronomy), Wren was invited to submit designs for the impressive Sheldonian Theatre in Broad Street. After spending some time looking at the Sheldonian and walking past the gateway to All Souls in Radcliffe Square, we will move onwards to Christ Church and Wren’s Tom Tower, a key feature of the Oxford skyline. Over the course of 60 minutes, you will see Wren’s most important Oxford buildings, learn some Oxford secrets and find out more about the man described as ‘the greatest architect Britain has ever known’ and a ‘towering genius’.

Lizzy Rowe is an art historian who studied Classics at Oxford University before completing an MA in Classical and Byzantine Art at the Courtauld Institute in London. Initially an editor in book-publishing, she later worked at English Heritage as a guidebook editor. She currently lives in Oxford where she teaches Art History in primary schools and gives guided tours and talks.

She is a knowledgeable and enthusiastic speaker on a wide variety of art-related subjects. Her particular interest is in exploring the art collections of the Oxford colleges, where many treasures can be found in chapels, dining halls and libraries.

The walks will start from outside the front entrance of Wadham College on Parks Road. This walk will be repeated at 12pm.

If tickets have sold out for this event, please email members@georgiangroup.org.uk to be added to the waiting list.

A guided tour of some of Wren’s churches

Posted on: April 4th, 2023 by wrenEditor

A guided walking tour of five of Wren’s Churches in the Bank area of the City of London beginning at St James Garlickhythe and visiting St Stephen’s Walbrook, St Margaret Lothbury, St Mary-le-Bow, and ending at St Vedast-alias-Foster with light refreshments. To sign up please email info@stmarylebow .org.uk

A Close Encounter with Christopher Wren 3-day Expert Tour

Posted on: March 17th, 2023 by wrenEditor

Our 3-day course is a journey of discovery through some of Wren’s architectural achievements in and around London, including the Royal Naval Hospital at Greenwich, Hampton Court Palace, London City Churches and St Paul’s Cathedral. Guided by an architectural historian and experienced educator, Dr Michael Paraskos, you will discover the influences from France and Italy that helped to define his style, learn how Wren integrated his scientific training into his architecture, and explore some of the perhaps surprising aspects of Wren’s work that lift him from being a dry classical revivalist into a creative artist.

As well as discovering Wren himself, you will encounter some of the architects who influenced him and those he came to influence, and along the way you will learn some of the specialist vocabulary used to describe Wren’s particular style.

An intense, but enjoyable and rewarding experience, the course is both a discovery of Wren, and a journey to uncover the foundations of British architecture which Wren helped to lay for future generations. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended!

A Close Encounter with Christopher Wren is part of the 2023 Summer School collection at City & Guilds of London Art School. The Summer School programme of short courses, 3-21 July, focus on the specialist fine art, historic craft and art history disciplines that are taught at the Art School.

Dr Michael Paraskos is a Tutor at City & Guilds of London Art School, specialising on the architectural history of London.