It is astonishing for a person to have fulfilled so many roles in his lifetime, a scholar, an architect, and an astronomer, yet, that is the legacy of Sir Christopher Wren, England’s most famous architect who rebuilt 51 churches on existing medieval foundations. In addition to his many contributions to London’s medieval architectural style, he worked as a Professor of Astronomy at Oxford University, identified the rings of Saturn, and even did anatomical research which assisted in further study on blood transfusions. 

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Sir Christopher Wren _©National Portrait Gallery, London

A significant turnover in the architecture and history of London was The Great Fire of London in 1666 which destroyed two-thirds of the city of London. Following the aftermath, the city turned over a new leaf with Christopher Wren being appointed to rebuild the city. Greatly inspired by the French Baroque style of architecture, Wren went on to rebuild 51 churches in London to showcase Britain’s rich wealth while at the same time preserving the essence of the medieval street style of London. 

Some of his most renowned works include the iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral, St. Stephen’s Walbrook Church, and Hampton Court Palace. His astounding design language, a combination of classical beauty and functionality, got him even wider rebuilding projects such as the Royal Hospital in Chelsea and the Trinity College Library in Cambridge. His effortless style clubbed with his vast knowledge of building structures made him the pioneer of the architectural style of the city.

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The Baroque style Fountain Court of Hampton Palace by Christopher Wren _©Tam Stone

This year, 2023, marks the 300th anniversary of the death of this legendary architect who rebuilt the magnificent London into what it is today. So let’s celebrate it by looking at some of the many buildings he worked on during his lifetime. 

The Works of Sir Christopher Wren

London’s Iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral

A baroque-style church brought up on the site where the first flames of the Great Fire of London sparked on a calm night in September 1666, St. Paul’s Cathedral is a remembrance of this very event in the history of London. One of the best works by Sir Christopher Wren, the Cathedral was one of Wren’s first designs meant to unite London’s diverse religious communities through a blend of neoclassical, baroque, and gothic elements. The Greek cross-shaped church is adorned with a double-shelled triple dome, meant to support the entire structure as well as filter out light into the church below. A wooden modeled structure gave way to an immaculately decorated cathedral that consists of a crypt, a rather unusual feature for a church but of great structural importance to the cathedral, and a dome that is its most striking element.    

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St. Paul’s Cathedral, London _©Unknown

St. Stephen Walbrook Church

Named after London’s lost river, River Walbrook, St. Stephen Walbrook Church is one of the most reputed and celebrated works of Sir Christopher Wren. Based on the designs of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the church has a massive central dome built in the Romanesque style with eight arches in turn supported by twelve Corinthian columns. With natural light flooding in through the arched windows that surround the pinnacle and perimeter walls of the dome, the interiors of the church are lit up by light bouncing around the altar that stands through the middle. St. Stephen Walbrook was amongst the 51 churches that Wren was commissioned to design following the aftermath of the Great Fire in 1666. Possibly his greatest work of the time, the church still stands as a timeless work of art in addition to being one of the top 10 most important buildings in London. 

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The Dome at St. Stephen Walbrook Church _©Grazyna Bonati

Old Royal Naval College

On the site of the famous Greenwich Palace, you will find the Old Royal Naval College, a building that has seen 500 years of rich history, from being the birthplace of King Henry VIII to being a charitable institution for the men of the Royal Navy. The twin dome complex situated along a scenic river celebrates the Baroque-style architecture of the era. But without doubt, the highlight here is the ornate Painted hall, also known as ‘Britain’s Sistine Chapel’ commissioned by James Thornhill to paint its wall and ceilings as a tribute to its founders. Such a grandeur created by Sir Christopher Wren has now become a popular filming spot and was even featured as the replacement for Buckingham Palace in the Netflix show, The Crown!

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The Facade of Old Royal Naval College _©Getty Images
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The Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College _©Unknown

Royal Hospital Chelsea

A retirement home for veteran soldiers, several parts of The Royal Hospital in Chelsea was built by Christopher Wren, such as the great Common Hall and the Chapel. He made and revised several plans for the hospital keeping in mind the quiet and peaceful homeliness that a hospital should provide its patients. Keeping in place the traditional building format, Wren included a figure court and added a central quadrangle to his plans to maximize its capacity while maintaining the beauty of the historical property.  

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Exterior of Royal Hospital Chlesea _©Clare College, University of Cambridge

To conclude all the works of Christopher Wren in a single paragraph would be nearly impossible, for he not only designed the above-mentioned structures but also Kensington Palace, Royal Observatory in Greenwich, St. Bride’s Church, and numerous other buildings around London. His legacy continues even after 300 years of his death, honored by his contribution to the architectural style of London which is a sight to marvel at to this date. 


Anshika Mangla is an ebullient individual who loves to express her thoughts through words. She is an Interior Design student who is interested in exploring the maximalist side of design with a bent toward architectural photography. She believes writing is the most powerful expression of our ideas, an inspiration for those around us.