Christopher Wren before Architecture

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9 May 2023


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.