Britain's great architect, Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) was born on this day in East Knoyle, Wiltshire, the son of an esteemed Anglican clergyman to the king. He is best known for the reconstruction of St. Paul's Cathedral after the devastating Great Fire of London in 1666.
St. Paul's beautiful dome was modeled after the Vatican's St. Peter's Basilica. The reconstruction became a life-long project for Wren, taking nearly 40 years to complete. Wren designed over 50 London churches, with magnificent spires and historical elegance that celebrated the Baroque style.
A brilliant scholar, Wren was an acclaimed scientist, inventor, anatomist, and mathematician as well. He founded the Royal Society in 1660. A professor of astronomy at Oxford, he once said, "A time will come when men will stretch out their eyes. They should see planets like our Earth."
Writer Mordechai Feingold said Wren was "perhaps the only great scientific practitioner in 17th-century England to be universally loved and admired."
Sir Christopher said of his craft, "Architecture has its political use; public buildings being the ornament of a country; it establishes a nation, draws people and commerce; makes the people love their native country, which passion is the original of all great actions... Architecture aims at eternity."
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