Fragment of the Coffin of Sir Christopher Wren 1723
Some of our architectural items are almost revered and have a special place in history.
Objects connected with famous architects help bring historical figures to life. In this case, the object is very much connected with an architect’s death, which took place on 25 February 1723. This fragment of the coffin of Britain’s most famous architect was 'liberated' from his tomb in St Paul’s Cathedral in 1851, the last time it was opened for the burial of his last surviving direct descendant. A verger gave it to the architect George Adam Burn (1817-86). By the late 19th century, Wren’s reputation was so high that his effigy was carved on the front façade of the RIBA’s new headquarters in 1934. Burn’s son gave what by then was virtually a holy relic to the RIBA in 1940, the year that so many of Wren’s London buildings were being threatened or destroyed by aerial bombardment.
Article by Charles Hind, RIBA
27 February 2015
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Fragment of the coffin of Sir Christopher Wren, Saint Paul's Cathedral, London
Call/Ref. no. ODS/WREN/1 [Located at the V&A]
Downes, K., 1988.
'Sir Christopher Wren: the design of St. Paul's Cathedral'.
London: Trefoil in association with Guildhall Library
Shelved at 726.6(42.12) // DOW [SR]
Summerson, J., 1965.
London: Collins, 1965.
Shelved at 72.034(42).66:92W // SUM [Reference]