The Wren London Series: Talks explore Wren’s grandest designs across the capital

Posted on: May 25th, 2023 by wrenEditor

If you seek his monument, look around.

Celebrating the life and work of Sir Christopher Wren, a fascinating series of talks will take place across London in four of Wren’s greatest buildings, the Wren London Series, from July – October 2023.  A speaker, or panel of speakers, will offer an in-depth perspective of Wren and his work at the Old Royal Naval College, St Paul’s Cathedral, Royal Hospital Chelsea, St James’s Piccadilly, and onboard a specially commissioned Uber Boat by Thames Clippers vessel.  The Wren London Series is part of Wren 300, a year-long celebration of Wren’s tercentenary, life and works.

The Wren London Series starts at St Paul’s Cathedral on 4th July in the Wren Suite, with speakers Shahed Saleem, (architect and Senior Lecturer in the School of Architecture and Cities, University of Westminster) and James Campbell (Professor of Architecture and Construction Theory, University of Cambridge; author of Building St Paul’s, Thames & Hudson) in conversation with St Paul’s Cathedral Head of Collections, Simon Carter. The talk will consider the practicalities and process of constructing Wren’s buildings, focusing on the remarkable craftsmen who made his designs a reality and underlining the collaborative nature of design and execution, as well as exploring what it means to build a dome in a place of worship. Book here.

On 5th July, a panel of speakers at Royal Hospital Chelsea, home since 1692 to the iconic Chelsea Pensioners, will host a unique conversation about health and wellbeing, “Broken by Age or War”: Bringing Wren’s Vision for Veteran Care into the 21st Century. This will explore design for health and well-being in the seventeenth century and the modern day, from historic ideas about contagion and cleanliness to the adaptation of the original building for contemporary use. Until the 17th century, the state made no provision for former soldiers. In 1681 Wren was charged with the construction and bringing the Royal Hospital Chelsea to contemporary medical understanding. The panel will discuss how Sir Christopher Wren’s vision for the British Military’s care holds up against modern standards of care. The panel will comprise Will Palin (CEO of Barts Heritage Trust), Christine Stevenson (Professor of Early Modern Art and Architecture, The Courtauld) and Peregrine Bryant and Laura Morgante (Directors of Peregrine Bryant Architects & Conservation).

On 1st September Uber Boat by Thames Clippers will host Wren by River, a unique one-hour boat tour led by Colin Thom, Director of the Survey of London, and a leading expert in London’s architectural history.  Passengers will be treated to an introduction to Wren’s London legacy, from the incredible perspective of the river Thames. The boat tour will take passengers past Wren’s greatest hits by the river, including the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, St Paul’s Cathedral, Monument, and Royal Hospital Chelsea, as well as other historic riverside points of architectural interest. The boat will depart at 7.00pm from North Greenwich Pier and arrive at Battersea Power Station Pier at 8.00pm. A café bar will be available on board throughout the journey. Book here.

At the Old Royal Naval College on 20th September, Simon Thurley (historian, Chair of the National Lottery Heritage Fund) will give a talk about Wren the Courtier, exploring Wren’s position within Court under King William and Queen Mary, and his work for them including designing Greenwich Hospital (now the Old Royal Naval College) on commission from the monarch. Wren’s success was underpinned by his skill as a courtier, retaining the confidence of four monarchs despite socioeconomic turmoil. His life at court can be reconstructed and demonstrates his devotion to the architectural whims of the Stuart dynasty. By using Wren’s history as a courtier, leading architectural historian Simon Thurley will deliver a thorough lecture with new research, painting Wren’s talents and career in a new light.

The Wren London Series will conclude on 27th October at St James’s Piccadilly with a lecture by William Whyte (Professor of Social and Architectural History, University of Oxford). Whyte is an academic historian specialising in architecture and his lecture will focus on Wren’s ecclesiastical architecture, using the context of Wren’s family background and the need for a new ecclesiastical idiom prompted by the religious changes of the seventeenth century. This talk will be introduced by Sir Neil McGregor whose BBC Radio 4 Sunday Worship in February explored the way in which Wren’s churches not only achieve beauty but provide different sorts of spaces for diverse congregations. Book here.

The Wren London Series will encompass many of the facets of Wren’s life and work as an architect, at some of his most significant sites in London.  Most talks will be £10, with St James’s Piccadilly free but ticketed.  The ticket for the boat trip talk will be £15.50, and a café bar will be available on board.

Wren300 thanks Olivia Horsfall Turner for her assistance in putting this series together and Tony Hales CBE for his generous support.

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.

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.

 

 

 

Christopher Wren before Architecture

Posted on: May 9th, 2023 by wrenEditor

Christopher Wren was a child prodigy. He entered Oxford University at 17 years of age in 1649/50 during the English civil wars. He was already famous as an astronomer, mathematician and inventor before he took up architecture in his thirties. He taught himself architecture with the assistance of books. Wren was a polymath and a practical intellectual. He is sometimes referred to as ‘the British Leonardo’. He excelled in many disciplines, including physiology, geometry, meteorology and drawing. As a child he made sundials; as a student he dissected human bodies; as an astronomer, he identified the rings of Saturn.

 

Rory Coonan will focus on Christopher Wren’s extraordinary but little-known contributions to the scientific revolution from his youth at Wadham from 1640 until his emergence much later as our greatest architect.

Sir Christopher Wren’s Place in the History of Architectural Practice- Celebrating 300 Years

Posted on: April 27th, 2023 by wrenEditor

James WP Campbell is Professor of Architecture and Construction History and Head of the Department of Architecture at the University of Cambridge. In this lecture for the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, he asks why Wren continues to occupy architectural historians today. Is there still more to explore about this fascinating individual, and in particular, what place can Wren be said to occupy in the history of the architectural profession?

 

Wood Conservation Lecture

Posted on: April 21st, 2023 by wrenEditor

Booking details: Free event, open to all (pre-booking required) www.squaremilechurches.co.uk/wren-300

Master Carver, Alan Lamb, honorary  member  of  The  Worshipful  Company  of  Joiners  and  Ceilers  of the City of London, discusses the work of Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721), who created the magnificent altar screen at St Mary Abchurch and other masterpieces for palaces, churches and great houses in England.

Dr Lee Prosser, Buildings Curator at Historic Royal Palace and contributing author to the book ‘Kensington Palace: Art, Architecture and Society‘, goes back to the time when Sir Christopher Wren transformed Kensington House into Kensington Palace and how this architectural triumph continues to live through conservation and restoration work.

Tony Webb, past president of the Master Carvers Association and former Master Carver at St Pauls Cathedral. He will be talking about his life’s work as a Gibbons carver.

Stone Conservation Lecture Evening

Posted on: March 24th, 2023 by wrenEditor

Double act, Pierre Bidaud and Steve Webb start the evening with ‘A Walk through the New Stone Age. They will discussing future projections from the pre-fossil fuel past – offering new solutions in stone, in the context of today’s social and environmental challenges.

Guests will then have a rare opportunity to hear from Oliver Caroe, one of the country’s foremost ecclesiastical architects, and Surveyor of the Fabric to St Paul’s Cathedral. He will be talking about the conservation of stone in relation to Sir Christopher Wren.

Finish the evening with a glass of wine and see demonstrations of HD3D digital surveys completed as part of the WREN 300 programme. Meet the people behind the current programme of conservation work including Cliveden Conservation, Terra Measurements and Restorative Techniques.

Members of the public, students, conservation professionals welcome.

Cliveden Conservation is a recognised IHBC CPD provider.

Booking details

Free event (pre-booking required)

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.

Architects of Peace

Posted on: February 1st, 2023 by wrenEditor

In collaboration between America’s National Churchill Museum and the Westminster College Center for Faith and Service, Architects of Peace is a three part speaker series featuring Timothy Riley (Sandra L. and Monroe E. Trout Director and Chief Curator of America’s Churchill Museum), Rev. Aaron White (First Presbyterian Fulton), and Tim Parshall (Beth Shalom, President). Today the Church of St. Mary, The Virgin, Aldermanbury stands as a temple of a peace, and a testament to the Sinews of Peace speech delivered by Sir Winston Churchill at Westminster College in 1946.

Through honoring multiple perspectives on peace under one roof, we hope to pay homage to Wren’s creative brilliance and invite others to consider ways they might contribute to peace in their communities and around the world.

All events in the series will take place in the Church of St. Mary, The Virgin, Aldermanbury.

Architects of Peace

Posted on: February 1st, 2023 by wrenEditor

In collaboration between America’s National Churchill Museum and the Westminster College Center for Faith and Service, Architects of Peace is a three part speaker series featuring Timothy Riley (Sandra L. and Monroe E. Trout Director and Chief Curator of America’s Churchill Museum), Rev. Aaron White (First Presbyterian Fulton), and Tim Parshall (Beth Shalom, President). Today the Church of St. Mary, The Virgin, Aldermanbury stands as a temple of a peace, and a testament to the Sinews of Peace speech delivered by Sir Winston Churchill at Westminster College in 1946.

Through honoring multiple perspectives on peace under one roof, we hope to pay homage to Wren’s creative brilliance and invite others to consider ways they might contribute to peace in their communities and around the world.

The series is to take place across the dates of March 14th, and April 11th. All events in the series will take place in the Church of St. Mary, The Virgin, Aldermanbury.