While writing about amazing people, I found that many of them came to fame because of accidents. Sir Christopher Wren is well known as the architect of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. But, it was only because of an accident that he got the job. Just after midnight, on September 2nd in 1666 the bakers shop of Thomas Farriner in Pudding Lane went on fire. It swept through the wooden houses in the area and before long over 70,000 people were homeless. The fire also consumed other buildings, including the old St Paul’s and many other churches.
Of course, it was a disaster for the citizens and business people. But, as they say, it is an ill wind that does not blow anyone some good. The accident did have some major benefits. Most important was that it attacked the source of the great plague that was killing many people. The flames burnt the rats that had been transferring the deadly disease to people in the city. People may have been homeless, but ironically fewer people were falling ill and dying.
Also, some individuals benefited from the fire. One was an Wencelaus Hollar, an itinerant artist from Prague, who had a minute eye for detail when doing illustrations. He drew a picture of London before the fire. It became like a piece of gold when the city buildings were burned. As there were no photographs, he had the only copy to help with the restoration. King Charles II sent for him, having previously rejected his offer of the gaining a commission to draw pictures of London. He was paid for his sketch to help in the rebuilding.
Sir Christopher Wren was also called by the King and asked to design new churches, especially St Paul’s. Prior to that he had been a Professor of Astronomy at Oxford University. The church took 35 years to build and Wren lived to see his creation completed, as he was 91 when he died. He was involved in the design of 51 London churches.
In a long life, he accomplished many amazing things in both science and architecture. Also, he made substantial contributions to mathematics, navigation and physics. In addition, he was a leader in founding the Royal Society and became its President.
Sir Christopher Wren led a truly amazing life and his biographical interview, is in a book titled – Amazing People of London – published by the Amazing People Club –
Thanks to neilwillsey for use of flickr photo