In the last two centuries, the ghost of Christopher Wren has haunted the architectural landscape of Britain and its colonies and former colonies. Routinely invoked as Britain's greatest architect and habitually copied in the period, he had the distinction of having an entire architectural movement named after him over 150 years after his death: the so-called 'Wrenaissance'. Often cast as a rival to the high Gothic Revival and the Arts and Crafts movements, Wren-influenced classicism became the dominant mode in British public building at the turn of the twentieth century. The interest in Wren also drove the development of British architectural historical writing in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Yet the prominence of Wren's memory in both the design history and the historiography of British architecture has been largely ignored by scholarship. This volume will be the first to explore this phenomenon and, in doing so, chart the rise of the Wren obsession in the nineteenth century and investigate its development in the twentieth. It will challenge existing, straightforward readings of the reception of Wren in the period and show that the Wrenaissance was a complicated moment in British architectural history. It will raise important questions about nationalism in British architecture in the period, about the relationship between the architecture of Britain's colonies and former colonies, and developments in conservation and archaeology. It will also address the simple question of how one single historical persona could be so dominant in an architectural culture over such a lengthy period of time.
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