SP34/29 f 133 Wren’s letter to Queen Anne

Christopher Wren became one of the greatest architects in Britain. He rebuilt not just St Paul’s Cathedral but over 50 other churches in London too as well as great houses and palaces. St Paul’s Cathedral is probably the most famous of his buildings.
It took over 35 years to build the new St Paul’s Cathedral. Christopher Wren faced many challenges during that time. The clay he was building on was very soft and he had to work out how to build the largest church in the country without it sinking! He wanted a dome on top of the church and he couldn’t get the design right. He kept drawing and re-drawing his design and still he couldn’t get it right. Building had already begun when he finally came up with the right design. Towards the end of the building project, Christopher Wren faced yet another problem! Read the document carefully and see if you can work out what it was.

To her Majesty the Queen
A humble request from Sir Christopher Wren
Which points out that:
There is law which says that the second half of my wages will be paid to me when the building of St. Pauls is finished, but I am being stopped from doing so by some bossy people in charge of organising the work.
I am really begging your Majesty to use your power as Queen to sort this out so that I can finish the building my way using plans agreed to by the Queen or anyone else she chooses to ask.
I am always praying for you,
Christopher Wren

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  • Who did Christopher Wren write to about his problem?
  • Can you think of any reasons why he could not write to his old friend King Charles II? (Clue- the letter was written in 1711 when Christopher Wren was almost 80 years old)

It seems that the people who paid Christopher Wren to build St Paul’s were trying to interfere with his design plans and had refused to pay him until the building was complete. He was forced to write to Queen Anne and ask her to help sort out the problem. Christopher Wren must have felt quite stressed and worried at times during the building of St Paul’s Cathedral.

  • How do you manage the stresses and worries of life? What do you do to relax? Do you have any top tips for Christopher Wren?