London is full of architectural feats of historical importance, which is a big reason why visitors enjoy its visual aesthetics so much. Still, in this abundance of styles and designs, some extraordinary works stand out for their timeless beauty. Many such buildings carry the recognizable signature of Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723), the most celebrated British architect and one of the most respected scholars of his time. Despite their age, most Wren’s buildings are still in pristine condition and are among the most amazing historical monuments you can find in the British capital city.
Many domestic and international visitors take advantage of Premier Club Rewards deals for affordable accommodation in London, from where it’s very convenient to conduct a tour of Wren’s most remarkable works. Here is a short list of Wren’s accomplishments that can be visited while you are staying in London:
St. Paul’s Cathedral
This Grade I listed building is positioned in such a way that you will be looking up to it from most parts of central London, which only adds to its dominant and imposing profile. Built in the English baroque style, it is an actively used Anglican Church temple and a seat of the Bishop of London. It was completed during Wren’s lifetime – a considerable achievement given its immense size (second largest church building in all of the UK). St. Paul’s Cathedral was the site of a royal wedding between Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981 and is one of London’s major attractions to this day.
Hampton Court Palace
This royal residence actually predates Sir Wren’s time, as it was originally built in Tudor style in the early 16th century. Wren was tasked with its reconstruction and tried to give it a look similar to the Palace of Versailles, which was the norm for royal palaces in those times. Some of his most important additions include the Fountain Court, as well as state and residential rooms located around it. The palace is famous for its lush gardens, a hedge maze, and one of the largest grape wines in the world.
St. Vedast Church
This small church located in Foster Lane was severely damaged in the Great Fire of London, but Christopher Wren restored it and gave it a new identity, turning it into one of the greatest examples of English Baroque. The main works took place from 1695-1701, while the iconic spire was added a few years later. Another reconstruction was needed to repair the extensive bomb damage sustained during World War II, preserving Wren’s unique work in almost identical form.
Located in St. James’s in Inner London, this Grade I building currently serves as the central office of the Commonwealth of Nations. It was first built as a private residence for the Duchess of Marlborough and used as living quarters for the royal family in the 19th century. Its brick façade is the most recognizable feature that tourists are very fond of, so Marlborough House is a favourite spot for sightseers.
In 1689, Wren was asked by William III and his wife Mary II to renovate and expand a property then known under the name Nottingham House. He reoriented the house to face westward and added two entire wings to the building. His efforts were continued under Queen Anne – Queen’s Entrance and Queen’s Apartments date from this era. Visitors staying at Hotel Kensington are within walking distance from this extraordinary palace, so they are advised to leave some time on their schedule to get acquainted with it from up close.
Royal Observatory in Greenwich is world famous because it serves as a fixed point from which all geographic longitudes are measured, but it’s exceptional even in purely architectural terms. The site was chosen by Sir Wren in 1675, who created the main building (known at that time as Flamsteed House). For more than two centuries, Royal Observatory was a centre of scientific observation, but in the early 20th century it was converted into a museum, a function it remains well suited for in the present.
One of the first major buildings created by Christopher Wren, Chelsea Hospital may lack some of the features characteristic of his mature style. Despite the word ‘hospital’, it’s actually a retirement home for veteran soldiers and has been since the early 18th century. In addition to the building itself and its Chappell and Great Hall (both designed by Wren personally), some of the most impressive features of this historical property include a majestic garden and its Figure Court with a famous statue of King Charles II. Located in the borough of Chelsea, this attraction is just a short metro ride from Grand Royale London Hyde Park.
Built near the entrance to the famous Windsor Castle, Windsor Guildhall is a historical monument worthy on attention on its own merit. Sir Wren wasn’t the original architect tasked with its construction – he only took over after Sir Thomas Fitz died in 1689. He quickly left his mark, adding stone columns around the perimeter of the building, thus creating a covered space suitable for hosting public markets while the main house retained an administrative function. Since 2011, the building houses the Windsor and Royal Borough Museum, showcasing the rich history of this place to visitors.
Monument to the Great Fire of London
Most of Wren’s works were completed in the aftermath of the Great Fire of London that almost levelled the entire city, so it’s only suitable that he also designed the monument to this event. Constructed in the 1670s, this Doric column reaches the height of 202 feet and contains an observation platform near the top. It’s situated near the end of the London Bridge, right in the middle of an area of major interest to tourists. That’s why this Wren’s work will be one of the most convenient to pay homage to during your next visit to London.