Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Christopher Wren

'It is not my purpose to inform my readers how the manuscripts of that eminent antiquary, the Rev. J. A. Rochecliffe, D. D., came into my possession. There are many ways in which such things happen, and it is enough to say they were rescued from an unworthy fate, and that they were honestly come by. As for the authenticity of the anecdotes which I have gleaned from the writings of this excellent person, and put together with my own unrivalled facility, the name of Doctor Rochecliffe will warrant accuracy, wherever that name happens to be known.


With his history the reading part of the world are well acquainted ; and we might refer the tyro to honest Anthony A Wood, who looked up to him as one of the pillars of High Church, and bestows on him an exemplary character in the Athenae Oxonienses, although the Doctor was educated at Cambridge, England's other eye.'
 
The character Doctor Rochecliffe, which appears in Sir Walter Scott's "Woodstock, or the Cavalier" (text above), connects today's subject, Sir Christopher Wren, with Walter Scott.  Christopher Wren was born on October 20, 1632. 
 
The architect Wren is best known for his redesign of St. Paul's Cathedral in London.  The connection to the Rochecliffe character comes through a friend of Wren's uncle, Bishop Matthew Wren, who led the effort to rebuild St. Paul's after it had been damaged by Puritans.  As related by Lucy Phillimore in "Christopher Wren": 'Bishop Wren held firmly to his trust in Monk's loyalty, though many things might well have shaken his confidence.  In the curious life of Dr. John Barwick, one of the king's most faithful agents, from whom Sir Walter Scott may have taken many of the features of the indefatigable plotter 'Dr. Rochecliffe' it is said that he (Dr. Barwick) 'often heard the Right Reverend Bishop of Ely promise himself all he could wish from the General's fidelity.'   '

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