Wren 300, a city full of people

Richard Jennings of St Vedast

Richard Jennings




St Vedast

Researched by Simon Wartnaby

Richard Jennings was baptised in 1656 at St Mary’s, the parish church of Henley upon Thames, the son of Nicholas Jennings, a barge master. In 1719 Richard was buried at the same church where his gravestone calls him ‘Master Builder of St Paul’s’.

Richard was taken on in 1695 by John Longland, Master Carpenter at St Paul’s Cathedral. Work on the dome started in 1702 and the following year Richard and John became partners. When John died in 1706 Richard was responsible for the completion of the dome. In 1711, having been accused by the Commissioners of fraud, Richard was dramatically dismissed.

Studies of carpenters; a man sawing a plank, a man plying a hatchet, and a slight study of a head and an axe, c.1770-1771 by John Hamilton Mortimer © The Trustees of the British Museum

From 1706 to 1717 Richard also worked on the carpentry for six steeples of the Wren churches in the City including St Vedast between 1711 and 1712.

Around 1700 Richard purchased a small estate on the edge of his hometown at Henley on Thames and by 1710 had built himself a country home. It was a fashionable mansion of nine bays with a central pediment and an imposing double height hall. An inventory of the contents of the house carried out in 1724 included equipment for the latest craze of tea drinking. In 1712 he had also purchased another estate, Turners Court, near Benson, Oxfordshire, perhaps for its timber.


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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