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Architecture

Elizabeth Wilbraham is considered to be the UK’s first known woman architect. Elizabeth was a smart and determined individual, described as a “very strong lady and knew what she wanted and how to get it.”. Elizabeth was born into a wealthy family on February 14th, 1632. She got married to Thomas Wilbraham at age nineteen. During her honeymoon, Elizabeth and her husband traveled throughout Europe. Because of her love for architectural design, Elizabeth decided to take an extended architectural study tour during her honeymoon. On the trip, Elizabeth and her husband met and conversed with several talented architects of the time throughout Europe. This trip is where Elizabeth’s secret career began.

During the seventeenth century, women could not have a profession. Because of this, Elizabeth used male architects to carry out her ideas and to supervise construction in her place. Elizabeth tutored Christopher Wren and was said to have helped him design 18 out of the 52 London churches he commissioned after the Great Fire of London in 1666. Historians claim that she could have contributed designs to more than 400 buildings during her lifetime while using male architects to take credit for the work. Elizabeth Wilbraham was an influential architect who, despite having a secret career, paved the way for many female architects.