Christopher Wren 1589-1658

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Christopher WREN 1589-1658

Biographical Note

Born in London, son of Francis Wren, mercer; Matthew Wren, Bishop of Ely, was his elder brother. BA St John's College, Oxford 1609, MA 1613, BD 1620. Chaplain to Lancelot Andrewes and rector of Fonthill Bishop, Wiltshire 1620, chaplain to Charles I 1628, Dean of Windsor 1635. He was expelled from Windsor by parliamentary forces in 1643 and was briefly imprisoned; deprived of his livings, he retired to Bletchingdon, Oxfordshire where his son in law William Holder was incumbent, where he died.


Wren evidently had an extensive library, though we do not know its size and contents, or whether some of his books were lost when the Windsor Deanery was ransacked in 1642. Three books of his with extensive marginalia (a copy of Bacon's Sylva sylvarum, and copies of Sir Thomas Browne's Pseudodoxia epidemica, and Religio medici), reflecting his views on contemporary affairs as well as the ideas in the books, are analysed in detail in the articles by Colie and Barbour. Examples: British Library 3125.a.4; Bodleian O.2.26 Art.Seld, T.11.20 Th.


  • Barbour, Reid, Dean Wren's Religio medici: reading in Civil War England, Huntington Library Quarterly 73 (2010), 263-72.
  • Colie, R. Dean Wren’s marginalia and early science at Oxford, Bodleian Library Record 6 (1960), 541-51.
  • Cranfield, Nicholas W. S. "Wren, Christopher (1589–1658), dean of Windsor." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.