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Sir Christopher Wren

Architect of St Paul's Cathedral

Sir Christopher Wren

In 1669 Charles II appointed Wren Surveyor General of the King's Works. As Surveyor General he supervised all work on the royal palaces. Wren was knighted in 1673. He is best known for the design of St Paul's Cathedral. Construction was completed in 33 years. The foundation stone was laid by master mason Thomas Strong on 21 June 1675 and the second foundation stone by master carpenter John Langland. On 26 October 1708 Christopher Wren junior, witnessed by Edward Strong along with other ‘Free and Accepted Masons’ set the final stone in place on top of the lantern. Sir Christopher Wren remained on the ground 360 feet below, he was seventy-six. Regular services had commenced in 1697 after the Bishop of London preached on the text of Psalm 122, "I was glad when they said unto me: Let us go into the house of the LORD." The cathedral was declared officially complete by Parliament in 1710. Built on Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the City of London, St Paul's Cathedral was the tallest building in London for over 250 years. Alone among English cathedrals, St. Paul's is the result of one man's creative vision.

Sir Christopher Wren was buried in St Paul's Cathedral with the epitath:

"Underneath lies buried Christopher Wren, the builder of this church and city; who lived beyond the age of ninety years, not for himself, but for the public good. Reader, if you seek his memorial - look around you."

St Paul's Cathedral

About the year 1685, Sir Christopher Wren introduced the first examination in the form of questions and answers. The obligation was short and simple, and had no penalty.

Q. Peace be to all here ...
A. I hope there will.
Q. What o'clock Is it? ...
A. It's going to six, or going to twelve.
Q. Are you very busy? ...
A. No-

Q. What is a Mason?...
A. A man begot by a man, born of a woman, brother to a king, fellow to a prince-
Q. In the name of the King and Holy Church, are you a Mason? ...
A. I am so received and accepted-
Q. Where were you made a Mason? ...
A. In a just and perfect Lodge-
Q. How many make a Lodge? ...
A. God, and the Square; with five or seven right and perfect Masons ; on the highest mountains or the lowest valleys in the world -

Seven or more make it perfect

The idea that five or more right and perfect Masons meeting with God and the Square make a lodge perfect is preserved in modern freemasonry. It is the constant presence of the open English Bible, which mainly dictates that a freemasons lodge is regular. In freemasonry a right and perfect Mason is one who acts justly and who can best agree.

In Ancient Rome, seven men arranged feasts and public banquets at festivals and games. Founded in 196 BC with three members, the college of epulones was increased to seven.

In 1688, the Invitation to William was signed by seven notable Englishmen, later named the Immortal Seven.

spiral cantilevered staircase used in the Harry Potter films

Signs used by Masons

At the building of St Paul's Cathedral there were a series of signs used by Masons to make themselves known to each other as Masons, which are now obsolete. When meeting in the street, they saluted each other by raising their hat with the thumb and two fingers only. Sometimes they would strike the inside of the little finger of the left hand three times with the forefinger of the right; or rub their right eye three times with two fingers; or they would take up a stone and ask, What it smells of? The correct answer to which was, Neither of brass, iron, or any other metal, but of a Mason.

Northeast corner

At St Paul's Cross in the northeast corner of the Churchyard crowds gathered for open air preaching. Bishop Thomas Kempe rebuilt the cross in the late 15th century in grand architectural form, as an open air pulpit of mostly timber with room for 3 or 4 inside it, set on stone steps with a lead-covered roof and a low surrounding wall. From here was preached much of the English Reformation, along with many major events in London's history, with sermons preached here usually printed and thus redistributed to a wider audience.

The first 'folkmoot' (or general assembly of free men) known to be held here was on St Paul's Day in 1236, to announce that Henry III wished London to be well governed and its liberties guarded.

Old St Paul's Cathedral

On 20 August 1553, a great gathering was called at St Paul's Cross to formally announce the intention of Queen Mary to restore England to the Catholic Faith. In the presence of the Queen, members of the court, bishops, dignitaries, nobility, the Lord Mayor and aldermen of London, representatives of the crafts and trades, and with a military guard, the preacher referred to the confusion lately spread by Protestant preachers to whom people should no longer listen. He exhorted them not to seek new doctrines or a new faith, nor to build a new church or new temple but rather to return to the old faith, the faith of their fathers, and to help their Queen to restore the old temple.

St Paul's Cross was destroyed by the Puritans in 1643.

Old St Paul's Cathedral was at the very heart of civic life in London before its destruction in the Fire of London in 1666. It was the largest church in Britain, and the third largest in Europe. It had the tallest spire ever built in Britain, until it was struck by lightning in 1561.

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