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Sir Christopher Wren, who rebuilt London after the great fire of 1666, was briefly MP for Weymouth (1702) and, controlling the local quarries, rebuilt St Paul’s Cathedral in the Portland stone.

The cathedral’s interior was decorated by James Thornhill, who was born locally in 1675 and served as its MP (1722-34). He was a portraitist whose subjects included Richard Steele, a playwright who was MP for Stockbridge (1713-14), Boroughbridge (1715-22) and Wendover (1722-27). Thornhill was portrayed by Hogarth as a member of the jails committee of the House of Commons in 1729. Hogarth also painted Francis Dashwood, the founder of the Hellfire Club and later chancellor of the exchequer.

Dashwood was the MP for Weymouth (1761-63), having sat for New Romney (1741-61).

This article appears in the 11 October 2013 issue of the New Statesman, Iran vs Israel

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