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 Lothbury Court, the back entrance to the Bank

Perspective of Lothbury Court, the back entrance to the Bank

Joseph Michael Gandy
Pen and coloured washes on paper
12/3/13 (Bank drawing 84 in 2:7)

Despite its grandeur, Lothbury Court was merely a service entrance to the Bank, for bullion vans to enter and unload their valuable goods. For security purposes, its pedestrian passageway was never used, and so the Court probably remained quite remote.

Its triumphal architecture was not lost, however, as it was glorified in many popular guidebooks and Soane exhibited his design for it at the Royal Academy. The Court's architecture resembled an imperial Roman forum, suggesting the Bank of England as a self-contained city. Lothbury Court represented the Bank's own glories.