Soane's London

The Bank Of England

Collections | Soane's London | The Bank Of England

Soane was Surveyor to the Bank of England from 1788 to 1833. He rebuilt nearly every part of the building and more than doubled its area. The complex arrangement of corridors, courts, top-lit banking halls, storage and offices lay concealed behind the fortified screen wall.

The instability in Europe after the French Revolution, Britain's continuing wars with France, and the palpable threat of riots on London's streets meant the Bank needed to be both secure and fireproof. Wars also increased business and led to expansion, as the Bank managed the increasing National Debt. In the middle of Soane's career, nearly 1000 clerks were employed at the Bank. Some even had residences on site.

A block of offices were dedicated to manufacturing banknotes. Long and circuitous corridors connected the many administrative offices and directors' rooms. The large banking halls were accessible to the public, who came to trade stocks and collect dividends.

Today, only the curtain wall remains of Soane's 45 year-long creation. The interior was demolished in the 1920s and replaced with a building by Herbert Baker.

Bank Of England Archives

Perspective of the Doric Vestibule, the west entrance to the Bank

Interior perspective of the Doric Vestibule, the west entrance to the Bank

Soane Office
July 1803
Pen and coloured washes on paper
11/4/4 (Bank drawing 44 in 3:7)

Visitors to the private banking departments were welcomed by an imaginative combination of Greek and Roman-inspired architecture. The vestibule was the only entrance on Princes Street, built in 1804 as part of the north-west wing.

A long corridor extended from here to the many private offices of the Bank. This led to a loggia on the north side of the Waiting Room Court, and then through a set of lobbies to more corridors. The loggia functioned as a symbolic bridge between the Princes Street entrance and the private interior of the Bank.