WREN, Sir Christopher (1632-1723). Manuscript signed ('Chr. Wren', in 47 places), his accounts as Surveyor of the King's Works for the year 1682-3, recording works at the royal residences of Whitehall, St James's, Westminster, Denmark House, Hampton Court, Greenwich, Newmarket, Winchester Castle and Audley End, as well as 'publick paving', the monthly accounts (occasionally two or three months are consolidated) in a single neat secretarial hand, each with a title page and each signed by Wren, the Master Mason John Oliver, the Master Carpenter Matthew Banckes and in many cases also by either Leonard Gammon, Thomas Rotherham or Henry Winstanley as Clerks of the Works, occasionally annotated 'drawn' or 'entered', 110 leaves, folio (373 x 250mm), pages individually mounted on guards, 19th-century half-leather boards.
Wren's accounts give a very considerable level of detail for the King's Works, describing for each month the precise tasks undertaken by each group of craftsmen, as well as other details such as payments for provisions. Much the most substantial works described are those for Whitehall, reflecting the complexity and constant state of flux of the principal royal residence in a giddying series of adjustments to chimneys, passages, cupboards, walls, gutters and roofs. At most of the other palaces the works consist of nothing more than minor repairs or shoring up: in the case of the new Greenwich Palace, where the King's grandiose project of 1661 had ground to a halt by 1672, the works represent the last, fruitless effort to make something habitable out of the incomplete buildings. The accounts also record the first stage of the new (and no less ill-fated) grand project that was to occupy the last years of Charles's reign, at Winchester Palace. A humbler but more serviceable abode was the hunting seat at Newmarket to which minor alterations are made, including, appealingly, 'making a large box for a Bitch to lye in the King's Bedchamber'.
Wren was Surveyor of the King's Works for just under 50 years, from 1669 until 1718 (when he was 85) -- the longest surveyorship in the history of the Office of Works.