Sir John Denham, K.C.B.
architect and poet; b. 1615 (at Dublin); d. March 19, 1688.
Denham came with his father to London in 1617. He took his bachelor's degree at Oxford, and studied law at Lincoln's Inn. He was created surveyor general of his Majesty's buildings by Charles II. Sir Christopher Wren was made his associate in 1669.
Sir Christopher Wren
architect and astronomer; b. October 20, 1632 (at East Knowle, Wiltshire, England); d. February 27, 1723.
He was a student at Oxford (B.A., 1650, M.A., 1653), and afterward a fellow, and in 1660 was appointed Savillian Professor of Astronomy in that university. His scientific work was known throughout Europe. He was an original member of the Royal Society at its foundation in 1662, and was elected president of that body in 1681. Having gained a great reputation as a mathematician, he was consulted in architectural matters during the confused times of the Restoration. In 1661 he was made a member of the commission in charge of the restoration of old St. Paul's cathedral in London. The first building which Wren actually designed and superintended was the chapel of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. He began the fine library of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1676. His Sheldonian Theater at Oxford was opened 9 July 1669. He visited Paris in 1665 and met Bernini then occupied with the design of the facade of the Louvre. Wren never visited Italy. The Great Fire of London occurred 2 September 1666. Immediately afterward Wren made a plan for the reconstruction of the burned district, which was not followed. He also began to make designs for the reconstruction of St. Paul's cathedral, which had been burned, and in 1673 was commissioned to prepare the fine model which is now in the South Kensington Museum. This model, being in the form of a Greek cross, did not satisfy the ritualistic tendencies of the court, which required a long nave for processions. A design in the form of a Latin cross was finally accepted 14 May 1675. The cathedral was begun on the site of the old cathedral, and finished in 1710. It was paid for by a tax on the coal brought to London by sea. The "Monument" in commemoration of the Great Fire was begun by Wren in 1671. In 1675, with the assistance of the astronomer Flamsteed, he built the observatory at Greenwich, London. About 1695 he took charge of the reconstruction of the old Greenwich palace, and was instrumental in having it transformed into a seaman's hospital. The double colonnade of coupled columns at Greenwich is one of his finest works. Wren repaired the spire of Salisbury cathedral. He begun the construction of Chelsea hospital in 1682. He made a fine design for a mausoleum to Charles I, which was not executed. On the accession of William and Mary in 1689 he began the enlargement of Hampton Court palace, one of his most characteristic works. In 1708 the erection of fifty new churches in London was ordered by act of Parliament. Wren actually designed fifty-three. Of these buildings ten have been recently destroyed. Among the most important of these still standing are S. Mary-le-Bow, S. Stephen, Walbrook, S. Bride, Fleet Street, S. Lawrence, Jewry, S. Michael, Cornhill, etc. He sat in Parliament for many years. There is a collection of his drawings in the library of All Souls' College, Oxford.