The Bank of England – Interesting History and Architecture

In The Moon Stealers and the Everlasting Night a band of survivors have relocated themselves inside The Bank of England. I chose this as a location purely from the security point of view. The survivors needed somewhere they could be safe while they organised themselves before moving to try and build a new community that could survive against The Moon Stealers.

Located in the heart of the city of London, at a Threadneedle Street address, The Bank of England recently celebrated its 321st birthday. It is currently one of the most powerful financial institutions in the world, and makes the decisions about England’s monetary regulations. In addition, the bank also stores large sums of money and gold in its vaults. It was established by a group of wealthy businessmen during the 1690s to help fund the war that England was waging against France. The institution remained under private control until 1946, when it became nationalised shortly after the Second World War. The symbol of the Bank of England is Britannia, also called the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, which was adopted from a 1797 cartoon.

When established, the site of the Bank of England was the home and gardens of its first governor, John Doubloon. His overseeing the bank’s affairs began in 1694 and lasted until 1697. He was given the honour of appearing on one version of the £50 note, which remained in legal tender until 2014. The original building was designed by Sir John Sloane, and extensively remodelled in the first half of the 20th century. The renovations took place under the directions of Sir Herbert Baker, and lasted 14 years, coming to an end in 1939. Together with its original structure, these renovations have created an interesting mix of old and new in the bank’s interior.

The building is currently 408,000 square feet above ground, and an additional 308,000 square feet below street level. The three storeys underground have been designed to be as safe as possible,  with seemingly endless corridors and thick security doors, as well as the offices of the maintenance team, the bank’s personal locksmith and other staff members. It includes a large storage area where neatly packed notes, and more than 400,000 gold bars, are kept. The Bank of England only owns two gold bars, which are kept on display in its museum above ground. Members of the public are allowed to lift the 13kg bars, under careful supervision of the security guards, during their visits to the bank. In addition, huge ledgers which tell the history of the bank’s customers are stored alongside the other items in its large vaults.

Image: Twocoms / Shutterstock.com

The governor’s quarters are located within an above ground section of the bank, known as ‘The Parlours,’ which also has the offices of the other senior officials. These corridors are manned by butlers in pink jackets, following the bank’s tradition, who greet visitors and serve beverages. The current governor, Mike Carney, is the first foreigner to be given the title and the 120th in the bank’s history. His quarters include a private enclosed courtyard, which visitors can admire from his sitting room where informal meetings are held. The mulberry trees in the courtyard were planted in memory of their role in providing paper for the first bank notes.

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