Bank of England

The Bank of England and surrounding area

The Bank of England was founded in 1694 and is sometimes referred to as The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street. Their mission is to “promote the good of the people of the United Kingdom by maintaining monetary and financial stability. If you are interested in the history of the bank they have a very good museum there which you can visit if You’re coming to London which Joolz Guides recommends.

The Bank was originally set up to act as the government’s banker and debt manager and the way people do business has changed vastly over the last 300 years. Indeed, promissory notes and IOUs were commonplace in those days and you can still see the remnants of these on current bank notes with the words “I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of £10.00” etc. The idea being that the bank would be able to return that equivalent amount in gold.

The back of the 50pence piece has a picture of a famous English lady called Britannia and they say she was modelled on the Duchess of Richmond whom King Charles II was besotted with. He even hurt himself attempting to scar her wall.

The area around the Bank of England is very rich with history. In this video Joolz talks about the Statue of the Duke of Wellington, said to be fashioned from the melted down French cannons captured at the battle of Waterloo. He also puts paid to one of the great myths about equestrian statues and how many hooves they have raised.

Sir James Gratehead is also remembered here as a great engineer who made significant advances in tunnelling. His invention The Tunnneling Shield greatly speeded up the building of the London Underground system.

Just beneath him here at the top of Cornhill is where the first municipal public lavatory was situated. It costed one penny to use, hence the expression “Going to spend a penny”!

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Rather Splendid London Walks Book

In this book of 20 walks, I will show you some of the fun, interesting, weird and ridiculous things I’ve noticed on my travels around London