Sir Christopher Wren’s Joke in Windsor Guildhall

February 9, 2007 at 3:46 pm | Posted in 1666, 1690, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, Architecture, Britain, British History, Elementary School, Engineering, England, Fun, Humour, London, Middle School, My photo, Oxford, Royal Society, Science Education, Snow, Weather, Windsor, Winter | 2 Comments

Take a close look (click image) at the four central columns here. Notice the dark shadows above each one? They are Sir Christopher Wren’s joke! How’s that for a bit of architectural humour? 🙂

Instead of a plague on all your houses this is a joke at the expense of your councillors!

Windsor councillors insisted that these columns be added to the Guildhall for safety reasons. (Ahem!)

Sir Christopher Wren’s four column joke in Windsor Guildhall


Sir Christopher Wren, the greatest English architect of his time, designed St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford, and founded The Royal Society. He lived in a Thamesside luxury home in Windsor and conveniently commuted to London by boat! After the Great Fire of London in 1666 which destroyed the homes of an estimated 70,000 of the 80,000 inhabitants of the city, Sir Christopher Wren was responsible for the rebuilding of many churches in London and was appointed the King’s Surveyor of Works for the massive City of London rebuilding project.

Who would you listen to on a safety matter: your elected official or your architect? And this was no ordinary architect. Hmmm …

I took both photos during our lovely snowfall yesterday. Schoolchilden in Windsor are well aware of this joke. I wonder how many tourists are?

Wren joke in Windsor Guildhall in snow yesterday


Next to Market Cross House is the Windsor Guildhall. The building was completed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1690. On close inspection you will notice that the central columns do not touch the ceiling and tradition has it that the councillors of the time, against Wren’s wishes, insisted on the columns in the interest of safety. Wren, not to be outdone, left the columns an inch short of the ceiling.


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  1. That’s hilarious! I do wish public officials would follow expert advice more often instead of deluding themselves into thinking they are more knowledgeable about the subject.

  2. Brilliant. Well done Sir Christopher!

    Having to deal with councillors fairly regularly I really do despair that we have to have them at all. There must be a better way! A recent commentator on a programme about local government suggested that councillors be paid. This is a good idea as it would open the role up to many more people … not just the semi-retired.

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