Wren 300, a city full of people

Voices: then and now

In 2023, 300 years after Wren’s death, a team of volunteers researched just some of the many craftspeople and parishioners who took part in, or witnessed, the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire from 1666 up to 1726. Using parish records and archives, they were given the opportunity to select, and briefly follow the threads of people’s lives from four parishes within the Square Mile of the City of London.

Volunteer researchers

A City Full of People was not only a project to uncover new research but most importantly an opportunity for people to learn new skills. Most started researching for the very first time and had no previous experience of working with archives. All they needed was a deep interest in their local history and city’s heritage that they wanted to nurture.

Training on how to approach historical investigation, working with manuscripts and accessing archives, along with visits and hands-on access to old records and manuscripts, gave volunteers the chance to gain a whole new set of skills and experiences.

Researchers were encouraged to pursue their own areas of interest and lines of investigation, uncovering details of parishioners’  trades and occupations, births, deaths and marriages, and much more.

The project also afforded the chance to examine questions of contested heritage and involvement in the expansion of Britain’s colonial interests.

The people, topics and churches they have explored are now shared in this online exhibition, as well as a series of exhibitions that were held across the four City Full of People parishes churches.


Download your own copies of the interpretation panels exhibited at each of the four parish churches.

St Martin Ludgate

Explore St Martin Ludgate's from Ruins and Rebuilding to Feeding the City.


St Vedast

From Goldsmiths and Speculators to Greening the City, explore the people and topics of St Vedast parish.


St Bride

Theatre and Books, Building and Banking, Contractors and Crafts - learn how St Bride's was rebuilt from the Great Fire.


St Botolph Aldgate

Discover St Botolph's connections to Mapping Colonial Conquests, Plague and Disease, Poverty and Wealth...


Start your own research project

Find out how to begin your own research with this toolkit helping you with practical advice and guidance on how to get started on locating historic documents and working with these remarkable resources.


Local churches were the focal point of sixteenth-century City life. Weekly worship and all the milestones of parishioners’ lives took place here: christenings, marriages and funerals. Many churches were lost in the Great Fire.

Read the stories of four that either survived or succumbed to the flames, and how they reemerged from the ruins.

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