Sir Christopher Wren – Scientist and Artist with Dr Michael Paraskos

Posted on: January 5th, 2023 by wrenEditor

2023 marks the 300th anniversary of the death of Christopher Wren, known to many as the architect of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, but also the creator of numerous other innovative buildings in London and elsewhere. As well as these artistic achievements, Wren was also a highly distinguished scientist. As well as holding professorships at both the Gresham Institute and the University of Oxford, he was one of the leading lights in the founding of the Royal Society. In this seminar Michael Paraskos will look at some of the achievements of Wren in both architecture and science, and set out some of the possible connections between these activities, asking the question, was Wren in fact a pioneer in turning STEM into STEAM?

Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication, Imperial College South Kensington, London, and online

Wren Conversations: His International Influence and Contemporary Relevance

Posted on: January 3rd, 2023 by wrenEditor

From India to the USA Wren’s influence can be seen in buildings around the world. Ranging from the clapboard churches of New England to the city halls of Belfast and Durban. In this conversation chaired by Edwin Heathcote, architecture critic at the Financial Times, speakers will discuss whether Wren was Britain’s first ‘starchitect’ and to what extent the international ‘Wrenaissance’ should be considered the language of British colonial architecture. The panel will also consider if 300 years after his death, Wren is still relevant to contemporary architecture.

Ticket proceeds will go towards the Square Mile Churches and World Monuments Fund Britain.

Chair: Edwin Heathcote

Edwin Heathcote is the architecture and design critic of The Financial Times. He is an architect and designer and the author of over a dozen books including The Meaning of Home (2012). He is also the founder and editor-in-chief of online design writing archive and a columnist and contributor to a number of magazines, including GQ and Icon.

Panellists include (TBC):

Annabelle Selldorf

Annabelle Selldorf is the Principal of Selldorf Architects, which she founded in 1988. Ms. Selldorf serves as lead designer on each of the firm’s projects. Born and raised in Germany, she received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Pratt Institute and a Master of Architecture degree from Syracuse University in Florence, Italy. Ms. Selldorf is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and serves on the Board of the Architectural League of New York, the World Monuments Fund, the Chinati Foundation, and the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College.

Selldorf Architects are currently working on a series of sensitive adaptations to a series of buildings at The National Gallery, London. Coinciding with the Gallery’s Bicentenary in 2024, the projects will create a world-class welcome to the millions of visitors it receives each year.

Loyd Grossman

Loyd Grossman CBE is an entrepreneur, author and broadcaster. Born in Boston in 1950, he began his career as a journalist writing for music publications including Rolling Stone, Fusion, and Vibrations whilst studying as an undergraduate at Boston University (BA).

He has a lifelong interest in history, the arts and heritage, receiving a PhD from the University of Cambridge and serving on the board of a number of cultural institutions including English Heritage, the British School at Rome and the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association. He is Chairman of The Royal Parks, President of The Arts Society and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He founded the 24 Hour Museum (now Culture 24) and was its Chairman until 2005. In June 2015 he was appointed CBE in recognition of his services to Heritage.

 Ticket proceeds will go towards the Square Mile Churches and World Monuments Fund Britain.

Supported by William J. Loschert KSG

Wren Conversations: Building Cities

Posted on: January 3rd, 2023 by wrenEditor

Three days after the Great Fire in 1666, Wren presented the King with his plan for rebuilding the City of London.  It never came to fruition and instead Wren introduced a wholly new architectural style, building 51 churches mainly on mediaeval foundations.  This conversation will discuss the opportunities and challenges of designing buildings in historic settings such as the City of London and touch on concerns such as pollution in cities in Wren’s time and today, City infrastructure, the needs of the community, and the future of City churches.

Ticket proceeds will go towards the Square Mile Churches and World Monuments Fund Britain.

Chair: Sir David Bell

Between 1995 and 2002, Sir David Bell was Chairman of the Millennium Bridge Trust, responsible for conceiving the first new bridge across the Thames in the centre of London for 100 years.

Panellists include:

Amanda Levete

Amanda Levete CBE is a RIBA Stirling Prize winning architect and founder and principal of AL_A, an international award-winning design and architecture studio. Since its formation in 2009, AL_A has refined an intuitive and strategic approach to design. Collaborating with ambitious and visionary clients, AL_A develop designs that are conceptualised not just as buildings, but as urban propositions – projects that express the identity of an institution, reflect the ambitions of a place, and hold the dreams of a community.

Sumayya Vally

Sumayya Vally is an award-winning architect and founder of Counterspace. Vally’s design, research and pedagogical practice is searching for expression for hybrid identities and contested territory, particularly for African and Islamic conditions. Her process is often forensic and draws on the oral, aural, sound, ritual, supernatural, and the overlooked as generative places of history and work.

In 2019, Counterspace was invited to design the 20th Serpentine Pavilion in London, making Vally the youngest architect ever to win this internationally renowned commission. With the Serpentine, she has initiated and developed a new fellowship program, Support Structures for Support Structures, which assists artists and collectives working at the intersection of art with social justice, the archive, and ecology. As Artistic Director, Vally is currently working on curating the inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale taking place in Jeddah in January 2023.

Rab Bennetts

Rab Bennetts co-founded Bennetts Associates in 1987 with his partner Denise Bennetts and established its reputation for architecture and professionalism at the highest level. To date, the practice has accrued almost 200 awards, including being shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize three times and winning UK Architect of the Year on four occasions.

Since the early 1990s, Rab has pioneered the link between sustainable design and high-quality architecture, and is a founder of the UK Green Building Council. He continues to take a personal, hands-on approach to projects, fostering a collaborative spirit throughout the practice’s activities.

Additional panellists to be confirmed.

Ticket proceeds will go towards the Square Mile Churches and World Monuments Fund Britain.


Supported by William J. Loschert KSG

Wren Conversations: Wren and his Contemporaries

Posted on: January 3rd, 2023 by wrenEditor

Led by Harry Mount, architectural historian and editor of The Oldie, the evening will include a discussion about the context Wren was working in, and other key figures of the period, such as Nicholas Hawksmoor, Robert Hooke and Grinling Gibbons; the role and influence of the parishioners, the Church and the King; and diarists, Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn. 

Chair: Harry Mount

Harry Mount, the Oldie editor, has recently written Et Tu, Brute? The best Latin Lines Ever (Bloomsbury) with John Davie. Other books include A Lust For Window Sills; and Amo, Amas, Amat and All That. He writes for the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Spectator and many other newspapers and magazines. He was a leader writer and New York correspondent at the Telegraph.

Panellists include:

John Goodall

John Goodall is the architectural editor of Country Life. He is responsible for writing and commissioning the celebrated series of architectural features published in the magazine every week.

John has been involved in various television series on history and architecture. He was the series consultant for the BBC1 television series on architecture presented by David Dimbleby, The Way We Built Britain (2007).

Griff Rhys Jones

Griff Rhys Jones is a presenter, writer and broadcaster. In the early 1980s he worked on the BBC television comedy sketch shows Not the Nine O’Clock News and Alas Smith & Jones alongside Mel Smith. Griff is a passionate advocate of heritage preservation, appointments include President of Civic Voice, President of the Victorian Society, Patron of the Stour and Orwell Trust.

Dr Anna Keay

Dr Anna Keay is a 17th century historian, She read modern history at Magdalen College, Oxford, where she won two academic  scholarships. Her PhD on court ceremonial in the reign of Charles II was supervised by Professor John Miller at Queen Mary, University of London

From 1996 to 2002 Anna worked as a curator for Historic Royal Palaces, which looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and the Banqueting House in Whitehall. From 2002 until 2012 she was Properties Presentation and then Curatorial Director of English Heritage, responsible for curating and presenting to the public 420 historic sites across England, from Stonehenge to Kenwood House. She is now Director of The Landmark Trust.

Ticket proceeds will go towards the Square Mile Churches and World Monuments Fund Britain.

Supported by William J. Loschert KSG

The 2023 Boyle Lecture

Posted on: October 21st, 2022 by wrenEditor
ISSR is now proud to announce that the 2023 Boyle Lecture on Science and Religion will be given by Lord Rowan Williams, theologian and former Archbishop of Canterbury on “Attending to Attention”.

The response will be given by the psychologist, Dr John D Teasdale, author of What Happens in Mindfulness.

The lecture will be given to an invited audience on 13 February, and will be Premiered on YouTube shortly afterward, with a live panel discussion on Zoom.

The original Boyle Lectures were given as a series of sermons at a number of churches in London and Westminster following their establishment in 1692. The ‘original Boyles’ lasted until about 1730, although sporadic later ‘Boyle Lectures’ continued to be given in the centuries since then. The lecture series was revived in 2004 at one of its original locations, the Wren church of St Mary-le-Bow on Cheapside in the City of London.

Wren Talk: Rory Coonan – Christopher Wren before Architecture: the ‘British Leonardo’

Posted on: October 21st, 2022 by wrenEditor

On the anniversary of Wren’s birth, this year’s annual Wren Talk will be given by Rory Coonan, former director of architecture at the Arts Council of Great Britain, and honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Coonan will focus on 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. The lecture also looks forward to Wren’s tercentenary in 2023.

The event is free and will also be streamed live on the St Bride’s YouTube channel. Please register to attend or watch via

The Talk and Q&A session will be chaired by Paul Finch, Programme Director of the World Architecture Festival.

This year’s lecture is the eleventh in the series. Coonan is a graduate of Wadham College, Oxford, and the Royal College of Art and has worked extensively in major projects in health and care with a current focus on creating affordable, sustainable smart homes for adults with care and support needs.

We are most grateful to the Wren Insurance Association for their generous support of this event.

An Introduction to Christopher Wren

Posted on: September 23rd, 2022 by wrenAdmin

Aimed at those new to the work of Wren, in this introductory five week course Dr Michael Paraskos, of Imperial College London, will present a series of lively talks looking at some of the key buildings Wren created and the contexts in which they were formed. We will learn about where Wren’s architectural ideas came from, how he applied those ideas with a scientific spirit of calculation and experimentation, and we shall explore his legacy in the work of later architects.

The course will be taught in person in the classrooms at Imperial College London and also simultaneously live via the internet (hybrid). Recordings of the lectures will also be available to those signed up to the course. The course is held weekly, 6:00pm to 7:30pm.

Sir Christopher Wren: Architect & Courtier

Posted on: September 20th, 2022 by wrenAdmin

Sir Christopher Wren’s success was underpinned by his consummate skill as a courtier, retaining the confidence of four monarchs through social and economic disasters and political revolution. Wren’s life at court can be minutely reconstructed and shows a man who was first and foremost a courtier serving the architectural whims of the Stuart dynasty.

Taking Wren the courtier as its starting point, this lecture from Professor Simon Thurley uses new research to paint his talents and career in a new light.

Simon Thurley is a leading architectural historian, a regular broadcaster, Visiting Gresham Professor of the Built Environment since 2009 and was Provost of Gresham College from 2020 to 2022.

Christopher Wren’s Medical Discoveries: the ‘Architect of Human Anatomy’

Posted on: September 20th, 2022 by wrenAdmin

Christopher Wren was part of probably the first ‘research team’ assembled in Oxford in the 17th century, dedicated to better understanding the human body. With colleagues, Wren contributed to: the near-discovery of oxygen; the first human transfusion of blood; the first intravenous therapy and first intravenous anaesthetic; the description of the anatomy of the arteries supplying the brain (the ‘circle of Willis’); and remarkably, the first successful cardiac resuscitation.

The lecture from Professor Jaideep Pandit will explain the continued relevance of these discoveries.

Jaideep Pandit is Professor of Anaesthesia at the University of Oxford.

The Mathematical Life of Sir Christopher Wren

Posted on: September 20th, 2022 by wrenAdmin

Christopher Wren, who died 300 years ago this year, is famed as the architect of St Paul’s Cathedral. But he was also Gresham Professor of Astronomy, and one of the founders of a society “for the promotion of Physico-Mathematicall Experimental Learning” which became the Royal Society.

This lecture from Professor Sarah Hart explores some of Wren’s mathematical work on curves including spirals and ellipses and the mathematics behind his most impressive architectural achievement – the dome of St Paul’s.

Sarah Hart is the first woman Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, and was appointed in 2020. She is Professor of Mathematics and until recently was Head of Mathematics and Statistics at Birkbeck, University of London.