WREN, Christopher
(b. 1632, East Knoyle, d. 1723, London)

General view

St. Paul's Cathedral, London

In 1666 the Great Fire destroyed London. Charles II commissioned Wren and his colleagues to submit proposals for the reconstruction. The project miscarried, as Wren's proposals proved to be unrealisable. But the new building for St. Paul's and fifty-one further churches were essentially his works.

The official comparison of the scheme with St. Peter's meant that the question of the plans for the new St. Paul's was settled. The so-called "great model" of 1673 is on the same scale as Michelangelo's domed central structure, although after countless changes to the plans, a traditional nave structure was built with its famous gigantic, double-shelled dome (111 meters high) over the crossing.

The main façade combines double-storey pairs of Corinthian columns with flanking towers (not built until 1706-08). The prevailing style is one of academic classicism. In spite of many conceptual alterations resulting from the long period of construction, St. Paul's, and particularly its dome, became a frequently imitated model for English church building.

View the ground plan of St. Paul's Cathedral, London.