In April 1719, towards the end of his long life, Sir Christopher Wren wrote a letter to his former paymasters, the Lords of the Treasury. Reflecting on his fifty-year career, Wren told the Lords that he had ‘worn out (by God’s Mercy) a long life in Royal Service’, he then added that it was because of this service that he had ultimately ‘made some figure in the world’. Looking back, then, Wren saw his life as one defined principally by service to the Church and to the Crown, and these institutional duties occupied him for almost his entire professional life.
This conference, organised to celebrate the Tercentenary of his death in 1723, will investigate, in detail, this crucial aspect of Wren and his architecture. Bringing together major scholars of Wren, and his broader professional milieu, the conference will present a series of papers that will shed much new light on the commitment and leadership that Wren brought to all his official positions; as the head of the Office of Works, and as the driving force behind the design and building of the City Churches and St Paul’s Cathedral. The conference will explore the numerous designs that Wren produced for these offices, the administrative reforms that he introduced into all of them, and the identities and roles played by the draftsmen, officers, and craftsmen that he employed. In all, we will demonstrate that we cannot in any way understand Wren, his architecture, and his legacy, without fully understanding his professional world.