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Wren's heavenly churches

Features | Summer 2017

Ionian white and gold: St Magnus-the-Martyr

2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Its effects were felt in the art and architecture of London's City Churches 150 years later, writes former City rector Rev Dr Peter Mulen

This year, 2017, is the 500th anniversary of the birth of the Protestant Reformation – when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses of protest to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg. There is some doubt whether it actually happened. It may be another of those romantic tales – like King Alfred burning the cakes. Whatever the truth, the changes brought about by the Reformation produced practical, physical consequences for churches: the ordering of their interiors, their forms of worship and their choral music. For fourteen years, I was Rector of St Michael’s, Cornhill, in the City of London, built by Christopher Wren six years after the Great Fire of London of 1666. I could see in Wren’s City churches how their interiors reflected the new theology. Many of the stone altars – where the sacrifice of the Mass had been presented to God – were replaced by the...

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