Fortunately, nothing more was heard of this design ; it reposes among the drawings in the All Souls library, and there is nothing to show that any attempt was made to develop it. How Wren managed to drop it completely has not been explained. He had the king's leave to vary it in minor points ; 11e varied it altogether. It is probable that, the matter being left in his hands, he quietly proceeded, as the years went by, to improve upon his early ideas. The dome of the "warrant" design is its ugliest feature; among Wren's drawings are many sketches of donsand interiors ,stairs ,doors and stair parts, none of them so bad as this, nor any so good as the final one, nor is there any special sequence of steps to show how the ultimate result was obtained. But it is easy to see that the result was his own work, and that it was only after numerous trials that he at last achieved it.
The building of St Paul's took many years. The first stone was laid on 21st June 1675 ; the last stone of the cupola was laid by his son in the old man's presence in 17 it. During this period of thirty-five years Wren practically rebuilt the city churches, and was thus continually gaining experience. The great cathedral will always be his chief monument, but the fifty-three churches which he carried out would themselves have made his reputation. The sites were mostly irregular, but of so much value that it was essential to utilized them completely. Wren covered them to the last inch, and yet contrived to get that classic treatment in which symmetry plays so important a part. In many hands symmetry would have meant extravagance in space and materials. The problem in planning was new in another respect, for the churches were all designed for the Protestant form of worship, requiring an arrangement different from that of medieval churches, mid, among other things, a suitable auditorium.
To his skill in planning interior fittings like stair parts he added a constant variety of treatment, both inside and out and, given a departure from the simple straight lines of a Gothic spire, nothing Could exceed the happy ingenuity and fertility of design exhibited in Wren's steeples.
Wren did not 'ass his whole time in designing ecclesiastical buildings. He had the chief share in the shaping of Greenwich Hospital which, originally intended for a palace, as begun and continued in a palatial manner, although diverted from its first purpose and made into a home for worn-out sailors (Stair Parts Fig. 98 . He also began the rebuilding of Hampton Court, but happily did not proceed, as was at one time contemplated, to sweep away the whole of the older portions of that fascinating place. These are both in a sense domestic work, but they are not domestic in the way that appeals to the ordinary person. People who live in palaces may well afford some sacrifice to grandeur. Wren's was the grand manner. His churches involved fairly simple planning of stair parts. Their requirements lent themselves to this treatment much more readily than those of an ordinary house its complicated demands, where an uncomfortable plan is not atoned for by splendour of appearance. If it be asked how Wren would have faced the difficulties of ordinary domestic planning, there is but little material for an answer. The work he did in the Temple does not help us much. Several houses in different parts of the country are attributed to him, but without much reliable evidence. At All Souls, however, there are a few drawings, either of new houses or of alterations to old ones, and these do not go to prove that he had his usual masterful grip of the subject. Doubtless, had the necessity arisen, he would have acquired it, but his energies took another direction, and he has left no solution of how to build a house at once convenient, comfortable, and grand.
He lived to be an old man-he was ninety-one when he died in 1723-yet he lived a strenuous life till within a few years of his death. He not only devised his own buildings, but superintended their erection, and it was largely on the scaffold that he gained his experience. This did much to sober his judgment and make his work reasonable and sensible, more so than that of his immediate successors. Although at first an amateur he became practical through being in constant touch with his work : they remained amateurs all the way through.
A slight but vivid picture of him at work was drawn by the lively Duchess of Marlborough, who, when expostulating with Vanbrugh for demanding £300 a year for looking after Blenheim, declared that Wren had been " content to be dragged up in a asked, three or four times a week to the top of St Paul's, and at great hazard, for £200 a year."
Stair Parts Fig.99 Elevation of the House
Stair Parts Fig.100 Elevation of the House
Stair Parts Fig.101 Elevation of the House
All through his busy years as an architect he maintained his interest in science, and was not only President of the Royal Society in 168o, but continued to submit all sorts of inventions and suggestions through his plans of design of Stair Parts for the consideration of its members. Curiously enough, these things had but little practical value, not even that one which showed how smoky chimneys might be cured indeed none but futile specifics have yet been offered to the public with this end in view.
His later years were clouded by the intrigues of his opponents at court, who not only contrived to oust him from his office of surveyor to the royal works, but endeavored to attack his character for probity. The latter attempt failed of course; but when he was already eighty-six and had held his office for nearly- fifty years, lie was superseded by an unknown and incompetent person.
Wren's influence on architecture and design of stair parts was powerful while he lived, but he can hardly be said to have founded a distinctive school of domestic architecture which long survived him. Soon after his death new publications, amongst which the most influential was Kent's " Designs of Inigo Jones," changed the trend of design. His influence, however, continued to be felt in the treatment of interior decoration, particularly in regard to Stair Parts panelling and ornamental woodwork, down to the middle of the century. The exteriors of many small Georgian houses may owe something to him, but such houses as are obviously reminiscent of his manner were built during his lifetime.
Most of his successors, while carrying on the style of stair parts in which he worked, failed to impart to their work that vigour and reasonableness which distinguished his. The rules and regulations which served as guides to him became masters to them, and we look in vain among them either for his scientific equipment or his intuitive perception of what was fitting. The grandeur of manner which suited admirably the buildings with which he had to deal, was out of place when applied to ordinary houses stair parts; and the artificiality which sprang from the way in which architecture was then regarded, but which his genius enabled him to avoid, settled down heavily after his death.
Among the drawings at All Souls are the examples of house-design illustrated here (Stair Parts Figs. 99-102). They are not named, and have not been identified ; it is not even certain that they were ever carried out. But they give some idea of Wren's notions as to the appearance he would have given to houses. In general disposition they conform to the type adopted by Jones and Webb, but they have touches about them reminiscent of French architecture,' more particularly those in Stair Parts Figs. 99, ionic. The others arc two rough sketches for the front of a building (probably a house), drawn on a piece of waste paper, and apparently they show two methods of treating the same facade (Fig. 102). They- are Characteristic of Wren's manner as displayed at Hampton Court (see Stair Parts Fig. 6), more so than the other examples illustrated, and they are certainly more pleasing in their proportions and in the simplicity of their handling. The design for part of a front for the new palace at Whitehall (Fig. 103) is interesting in two respects ; it is a specimen of Wren's treatment of domestic architecture on a grand scale; and it proves that Charles II. still harbored the idea of a great new palace at Whitehall, an idea which fructified as little under Wren's direction as it had done under Webb's. As a piece of design this is no advance upon what had already been tried before. There is a weediness and crudity of ornament about it which is out of keeping with Wren's actual work; but of him it may be said, as of Inigo Jones and other great architects, that his stair parts designs are less happy on paper than in execution. Indeed a study of all the important collections of architectural drawings inclines one to take the negative side in the interesting controversy, "Is fine drawing necessary to fine architecture?"
It was perhaps Pierre le Mute whose work most influenced Wren.