Edward Pierce (1630-1695) designed the centrepiece of Seven Dials - its elegant sundial pillar. Pierce was the leading sculptor of the seventeenth century and a renowned architect and stonemason. He came to prominence as a sculptor after the Great Fire of London, when he was ‘much employed by Sir Christopher Wren in his carvings and designs.’ Pierce’s best-known works as a sculptor are the carved busts of Oliver Cromwell and Christopher Wren, both in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
Pierce was employed by Wren for masonry work and designs for many of the City churches and for St Paul’s Cathedral. He also undertook wooden carvings at various churches, including the wooden model for the copper dragon weathervane at St Mary-le-Bow. His greatest work as an architect was the Bishop’s Palace at Lichfield, built under his supervision to his designs 1686-87.
Pierce died in 1695 at Surrey Street near the Thames and was buried at St Clement Danes Church, The Strand. He left an important collection of books, prints and drawings. The original drawing of the Seven Dials Sundial Pillar, now held in the British Museum, may have come from this collection. The Trust rediscovered this drawing which our architect, A.D. Mason of Whitfield Partners, used when researching the proportions of the new Sundial pillar.
Contracts under Sir Christopher Wren at:
St Lawrence Jewry (masonry and woodcarving) — 1671-81
St Clement Danes (masonry) — 1680-82
St Mathew, Friday Street, (including carved font) — 1682-?
St Andrew, Holborn, (including carved font) — 1684-?
St Paul’s Cathedral — various dates
Hampton Court (carved marble vases)
Model for dragon of St-Mary-le-Bow steeple
Work under William Winde at:
Combe Abbey, Warwickshire — 1682-3
Hampstead Marshall, Berkshire — 1661
Oliver Cromwell (National Portrait Gallery)
John Milton (Christ College, Cambridge)
Sir Christopher Wren (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)
Baldwin Hamey (Royal College of Physicians)
The Bishop’s Palace, Lichfield (architect) — 1686-7
The Pillar Sundial, Seven Dials (architect & mason) — 1694
Coopers’ Hall — 1671-2
Grocers’ Hall — 1680-4
The Guildhall — 1671
Emmanuel College, Cambridge — 1670
Wolseley Hall (demolished), Staffordshire (woodcarving) — 1686
Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire (staircase) — 1676-7
Winchester College (wood panelling, now in New Hall) — 1681