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 Tivoli Corner

Perspective of the Tivoli Corner

Joseph Michael Gandy
Pen and coloured washes on paper, framed
P118 (Bank drawing 61 in 3:5)

This drawing of Tivoli Corner built in 1807, was made by Soane's skilled draughtsman, Joseph Michael Gandy. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1824. Modelled on the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli, the Tivoli Corner strikes an arresting view at the Bank's north-west corner.

Positioned at the back of the Bank, the corner faced what Soane expected to be a new avenue, which had been planned for the City of London by his friend and mentor George Dance. The great avenue, Moorgate, was unfortunately not built until the 1840s. Nevertheless, many architects contemporary to Soane agreed that Tivoli Corner was his greatest architectural success. It was featured on the reverse of Soane's Gold Medal presented by the Architects of England in 1835 and has continued to be his signature work.