After spending time as a professor of astronomy and inventor, Christopher Wren's abilities as an architect were recognized formally for the first time in 1661, when King Charles II appointed Wren to the position of assistant to the Surveyor General of His Majesty's Works. This directly involved Wren with the design and architectural development process for buildings connected with the royalty and its sponsorship.
Wren expanded his knowledge of architectural history and forms while spending time in continental Europe. His great opportunity to apply his ideas arose from the ashes left by the Great London Fire of Sept., 1666. While his plan for rebuilding the city of London as a whole was not implemented, he directed the rebuilding of numerous churches and other buildings throughout London. The best-known of these is St. Paul's Cathedral, but all were recognized by his contemporaries as being superbly designed and executed.