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Willen Church

Willen Church, St Mary Magdalene, was built for Dr Richard Busby, Head Master of Westminster School. His students included Robert Hooke the English natural philosopher and Sir Christopher Wren, one of the most famous architects of his time.

The church was designed and construction supervised by Dr Robert Hooke. Robert Hooke helped Christopher Wren rebuild London after the Great Fire in 1666, and also worked on designing London’s Monument to the fire, the Royal Greenwich Observatory, Montagu House in Bloomsbury, and the infamous Bethlem Royal Hospital (which became known as ‘Bedlam’).

Willen church was built around 1679 – 1682 (the date 1680 is cast into the plasterwork of the barrel-vault ceiling of the nave). Three bells were hung in the tower with fittings for full-circle ringing, they have identical rhyming inscriptions “Richard Chandler made me 1683.

It is not in its original condition; in the 19th century an apse was added to the nave, and the cupola was removed from the tower. Hooke’s original intention was for a simple nave and a decorative tower; to some extent this intention has been reversed.

7 August 2023
Last Updated
7 August 2023