Authorised form of nameWren; Sir; Christopher (1632 - 1723); architect, astronomer, and mathematician
Dates1632 - 1723
Place of birthEast Knoyle, Wiltshire, England, Europe
Date of birth20 October 1632
Place of deathSt James's Street, Piccadilly, London, England, Europe
Date of death25 February 1723
Dates and placesBurial:
St Paul's Cathedral, London, England, Europe (5 March 1723)
Research fieldAstronomy
Westminster School; tutored in mathematics by his brother-in-law, William Holder (FRS 1663); Wadham College, Oxford (BA 1651; MA 1653; DCL 1661); Lincoln's Inn (admitted 1676)
Assistant to Charles Scarburgh (FRS 1663) for his lectures at Surgeons' Hall (1646); Fellow of All Souls, Oxford (1653-1661); stayed in Oxford, engaging in scientific studies and experiments (-1657); Professor of Astronomy, Gresham College, London (1657-1661); Savilian Professor of Astronomy at Oxford (1661-1673); Assistant to Sir John Denham (FRS 1663); Surveyor-General of the King's Works (1661); Surveyor-General for rebuilding St Paul's Cathedral and the city churches after the Great Fire (1666); Surveyor-General of the Royal Works (1669-1719); Commissioner for Assessment for Middlesex (1673-1679), Westminster (1673-1680), Westminster and Berkshire (1689-1690); Surveyor-General for the repairs of the Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster (1698-1723); MP for Plympton Erle (1685), for New Windsor (1689), and for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis (1701)
Kt 1673
Membership categoryFounder Fellow
Date of election28/11/1660
Age at election28
Royal Society activityRoyal Society roles:
PRS 1680-1682; VP 1674-1676, 1679; 1682-?
Committee and panels:
Committee to consider a proposal on perpetual motion (1664) ; Committee to consider a way of determining the measure of a degree on the earth (1669)
Other Royal Society activityOne of Wren's lectures at Gresham College was followed by the official foundation of the Royal Society (28 November 1660); Wren was involved in the Royal Society's original purchase and later lease of Chelsea College in 1670; As President, Wren implemented means in which financial contributions from Fellows could be secured regularly and Fellow's arrears reduced
RelationshipsParents: Christopher Wren and Mary Cox
Married: 1) Faith Coghill; 2) Jane Fitzwilliam
Brother-in-law: William Holder (FRS 1663)
Children: Christopher Wren (FRS 1693)
Additional relatives: cousin of Matthew Wren (FRS 1663) and Thomas Wren (FRS 1663)
General contextWren's move from mathematics and geometry towards architecture was commonly seen as a way to practically apply mathematics and he additionally strengthened international contacts with European architects. His major architectural works include St Paul's Cathedral, many city churches, the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, Pembroke College chapel and Trinity College Library at Cambridge. Wren left a long-lasting and wide-spanning impact on architecture, both private commissions and in the public service, as well as natural philosophy to which he contributed in a variety of specialities.
Related imagesDiscover a selection of related images in our picture library

Wren P0145.jpg

Bulloch's Roll; DNB; DSB; Venn; Foster; Aubrey; Henning; ODNB; Hunter
Sir John Summerson, 'Sir Christopher Wren, PRS (1632-1723)' in NR 1960 vol 15 pp 99-105, plate
Sir John Craig, 'The Royal Society and the Royal Mint' in NR 1964 vol 19 pp 156-167
Sir Harold Hartley and Sir Cyril Hinshelwood, 'Gresham College and the Royal Society' in NR 1961 vol 16 pp 125-135
Kenneth Dewhurst, 'Locke's Contribution to Boyle's Researches on the Air and on Human Blood' in NR 1962 vol 17 pp 198-206
John Thomas, 'Josiah Wedgwood's Portrait Medallions of Fellows of the Royal Society' in NR 1963 vol 18 pp 45-53, plate
H W Jones, 'Sir Christopher Wren and Natural Philosophy: with a Checklist of his Scientific Activities' in NR 1958 vol 13 pp 19-37, plate
George Watson, 'Dryden and the Scientific Image' in NR 1963 vol 18 pp 25-35
G H Turnbull, 'Samuel Hartlib's Influence on the Early History of the Royal Society' in NR 1953 vol 10 pp 101-130
E N da C Andrade, 'The Birth and Early Days of the Philosophical Transactions' in NR 1965 vol 20 pp 9-27
Douglas McKie, 'The Origins and Foundation of the Royal Society of London' in NR 1960 vol 15 pp 1-37
Derek T Whiteside, 'Wren the Mathematician' in NR 1960 vol 15 pp 107-111
C A Ronan and Sir Harold Hartley, 'Sir Paul Neile, FRS (1613-1686)' in NR 1960 vol 15 pp 159-165
Asit K Biswas, 'The Automatic Rain-Gauge of Sir Christopher Wren, FRS' in NR 1967 vol 22 pp 94-104
A Rupert Hall, 'Wren's Problem' in NR 1965 vol 20 pp 140-144
D T Whiteside, 'The Prehistory of the Principia from 1664 to 1686' in NR 1991 vol 45 pp 11-61
Derek Hull, 'Robert Hooke: A Fractographic Study of Kettering-Stone' in NR 1997 vol 51 pp 45-55
Jacques Heyman, 'Hooke's Cubico-Parabolical Conoid' in NR 1998 vol 52 pp 39-50
Gordon Higgott, 'Wren's Architectural Writings', review of Lydia M Soo, Wren's "Tracts" on Architecture and Other Writings in NR 2000 vol 54 pp 119-120
Lisa Jardine, 'Monuments and microscopes: scientific thinking on a grand scale in the early Royal Society' in NR 2001 vol 55 pp 289-308
A Rupert Hall and Marie Boas Hall, 'The Intellectual Origins of the Royal Society - London and Oxford' in NR 1968 vol 23 pp 157-168
Albert Van Helden, 'Christopher Wren's De Corpore Saturni' in NR 1968 vol 23 pp 213-229
J A Bennett, 'Wren's Last Building?' in NR 1972-3 vol 27 pp 107-118
Michael Hunter, 'A "College" for the Royal Society: The Abortive Plan of 1667-1668' in NR 1983-84 vol 38 pp 159-186
Michael Hunter, 'The Social Bias and Changing Fortunes of an Early Scientific Institution: An Analysis of the Membership of the Royal Society, 1660-1685' in NR 1976-7 vol 31 pp 9-114
P D Lawrence and A G Molland, 'David Gregory's Inaugural Lecture at Oxford' in NR 1970 vol 25 pp 143-178
Robert G Frank, Jr, 'John Aubrey, FRS, John Lydall, and Science at Commonwealth Oxford' in NR 1972-3 vol 27 pp 193-217
Sir Bernard Lovell, 'Address at Westminster Abbey, on the Occasion of the Tercentenary of the Royal Greenwich Observatory' in NR 1975-6 vol 30 pp 127-132
N J W Thrower, 'Samuel Pepys FRS (1633-1733) and The Royal Society' in NR 2003 vol 57 pp 3-13
J Heyman, 'The birth of the modern architect. On a grander scale: the outstanding career of Sir Christopher Wren, by L Jardine' in NR 2003 vol 57 pp 243-244
Sir Alan Cook FRS, 'Continental connections' in NR 2003 vol 57 pp 267-268
P Breeze, 'The ancestry of Robert Hooke: John Hooke of Wroxhall' in NR 2003 vol 57 pp 269-271
L Jardine, 'The 2003 Wilkins Lecture: Dr Wilkins's boy wonders' in NR 2004 vol 58 pp 107-129
J Gribbin, 'The Fellowship', 2005, pp136-138
Virtual International Authority File
Royal Society codeNA8299
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
IM/005009Wren, Sir ChristopherApril 2000
IM/005013Wren, Sir Christophernd
IM/005011Wren, Sir Christophernd
RBC/2/35Christopher Wren's weather clock1663
RBO/4/15A Cypher by Dr Christopher Wren4 February 1669
RBO/2ii/65Account of a weather clock by Christopher Wren1663
IM/005015Wren, Sir Christophernd
MM/15/68Letter from WF Tiffin to Royal Society27 August 1883
RBO/4/8Dr Christopher Wren's hypothesis of motion1668
DM/5/20Hooke's bills of expenditure by him on the Society's account, and an order dated 23 December 1681 by Sir Christopher Wren to Abraham Hill, Treasurer, to pay Hooke £40 23 December 1681
IM/005007Wren, Sir Christopher2001
P/0145Portrait of Wren, Sir Christopher
IM/005006Wren, Sir Christopher1750
IM/005002Wren, Sir Christophernd
IM/005004Wren, Sir Christophernd
IM/005005Wren, Sir Christophernd
RBO/4/20'The Generation of an Hyperbolical Cylindroid, accommodable to the Grinding of Hyperbolical Glasses Invented by Dr Christopher Wren'10 June 1669
IM/005008Wren, Sir Christopher2001
IM/005014Wren, Sir Christopher2001
CLP/1/12/1Manuscript, solution to 'A mathematical problem to be solved by English mathematicians' set by Jean de Montfert [Blaise Pascal]' by Christopher Wren[1658]
MS/390/22Bond of Sir Christopher Wren to the Treasurer of the Royal Society26 November 1674
NLB/66/110Copy letter from Francis Alexander Towle, Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society; to W. H. Ward, Honorary Secretary of the Wren Society, Bedford Square, W.C22 February 1924
CLP/1/11/2Diagram, engine for grinding hyperbolic glasses by Christopher Wren[1669]
RBC/2/92'A new Levell Of Dr Christopher Wren's Invention'nd
CLP/1/11/5Diagram, geometric shape by Christopher Wren[1669]
CLP/1/12Paper, solution to 'A mathematical problem to be solved by English mathematicians' set by Jean de Montfert [Blaise Pascal]' by Christopher Wren[1658]
CLP/1/11/4Diagram, geometric shape by Christopher Wren[1669]
CLP/8i/5/3Drawing, astronomical observations by the Earl of Sandwich [Edward Montagu]1662
CLP/6/17Paper, 'Observations of Dr Robert Moray, Sir P [Paul] Neil and Dr [Christopher] Wren, made by them in their late excursion into the country' by Robert Moray[1664]
CLP/8i/5/2Drawing, astronomical observations by the Earl of Sandwich [Edward Montagu]1662
MOB/018Dividers attributed to Christopher Wren1697
CLP/4i/16Paper, 'Shapes of haile' brought before the Royal Society by Christopher Wren1667
IM/005010Wren, Sir Christopher2002
DM/5/101A list of benefactors to the Museum, to the value of £5 or upwards at one time c.1737
M/235Wren, Sir Christopher 1723
DM/5/74C'Desiderata from Dr Christopher Wren'c.1666
RBO/9/57'Proposals for building a House for the Royal Society' by Sir Christopher Wren1704
MM/16/67Letter from TL Brunton, Stratford Place, Archibald Geikie30 October 1906
DM/5/70Resolution signed by Henry Oldenburg, appointing a Committee of the Royal Society to consider a way of determining the measure of a degree on the earth21 October 1669
LBO/1/6Copy letter from Christopher Wren, Oxford, to Paul Neile1 October 1661
CLP/1/11/3Diagram, generation of an hyperbolical cylindroid by Christopher Wren[1669]
MC/1/313Letter from Thomas Coates, [Secretary of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge], 59 Lincoln's Inn Fields, to Dr. [Peter Mark] Roget, [Secretary of the Royal Society] 16 June 1831
CLP/1/12/2Diagrams, geometric diagrams by Jean de Montfert [Blaise Pascal][1658]
CD/4Documents on the Wren Bicentenary, for the consideration of Council of the Royal Society1922-1924
RBO/4/21'Animadversiones in novam Theoriam Motus' of Christopher Wren and Christian Huygens1669
MC/1Volume 1 of miscellaneous correspondence regarding business matters, sent to the Royal Society1800-1831
RBO/3/53'A New Levell Of Dr Christopher Wren's Invention'14 March 1667
EL/W3/5Letter, from Christopher Wren to Robert Moray11 April 1665
EL/W3/6Letter, from Christopher Wren to Robert Hooke20 April 1665
EL/W3/2Letter, from Christopher Wren to Paul Neile, dated at Oxford1661
CLP/1/11/6Diagram, erroneous diagram for Brouncker's paper on the pendulum by Christopher Wren[1669]
EL/W3/3Copy of a letter, from Christopher Wren to William Brouncker30 July 1663
CLP/1/11/8Diagram, for doubling the cube by William Brouncker[1669]
CLP/2/1Diagram, 'A new levell' by Chr [Christopher] Wren[1667]
CLP/1/11/7Diagram, for doubling the cube by William Brouncker[1669]
CLP/3i/46Cyphers, two cyphers by Christian Huygens and Chr [Christpher] Wren[1669]
EL/W3/8Letter, from Christopher Wren to Henry Oldenburg3 November 1668
CLP/3i/43Paper, 'Lex naturae de collisione corporum' ['The law of nature concerning the collision of bodies'] by Christopher Wren[1668]
EL/B1/13Copies of two letters, from William Brouncker and Christopher Wren regarding precedence of mathematical demonstration8 October 1673
EL/W3/4Letter, from Christopher Wren to John Wilkins, dated at Wadham College26 November 1663
EL/W3/7Letter, from Christopher Wren to Henry Oldenburg, dated at Oxford7 June 1668
CLP/8i/5Paper, 'Observations in his in voyage to Portugal' by the Earl of Sandwich [Edward Montagu]1662
RBO/4/27'A Description and Scheme of Dr Wren's Instrument for Drawing up Great Weights from Deep places'1670
CLP/4i/16/1Drawing of hail brought before the Royal Society by Christopher Wren1667
CLP/8i/5/1Manuscript, 'Observations in his in voyage to Portugal' by the Earl of Sandwich [Edward Montagu]1662
CLP/3i/54Paper, 'Animadversiones in novam theoriam motus a viris Dno Christophoro Wren et Dno Christiano Hugenio' ['Amendments to the new theory of motion of Christopher Wren and Christian Huygens'] by Francis Willughby[1669]
CLP/1/11/1Manuscript, 'Generatio corporis cylindroidis hyperbolici' [The generation of an hyperbolical cylindroid] by Christopher Wren[1669]
CLP/3i/42Paper, 'A summary account given by Dr John Wallis of the general laws of motion' by John Wallis15 November 1668
CLP/8i/60Paper, 'An instrument for seeing the Sun, Moon and stars pass the meridian of any place usefull for setting watches in all parts of the world with the greatest exactness; to correct sun-dials; to assist in the discovery of the longitudes of places etc' by William Derham1705
RBO/2i/78'The Description Of a Weather-Clock consisting of two wings, that may be added to a Pendulum Clock' by Christopher Wren4 December 1663
CLP/1/11Paper, 'Generatio corporis cylindroidis hyperbolici' [The generation of an hyperbolical cylindroid], by Christopher Wren[1669]
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