Esoteric London

No. 57: Lothbury, EC2

Posted in London Places by esotericlondon on May 18, 2010

Corner of Prince’s Street and Lothbury, London, EC2. Photo © Roger Dean 2010

Walks in and Around London – Uncle Jonathan, 1895:

But we must turn our backs upon the Exchange and look at that sombre building on our right hand. It is the BANK OF ENGLAND, the greatest bank in the world. The original building was first opened for business on June 5th, 1734. Since that date, large additions have been made to it, some parts of it have been rebuilt, and it now covers an irregular space of four acres. The design of the present building, which we do not admire, is due to Sir John Soane, who was appointed architect in 1788. The interior is far more lightsome and pleasant than one might suppose from the heavy outside. It consists of nine open courts, a Rotunda, committee rooms, apartments for officers and servants, and rooms appropriated to business. The principal rooms are on the ground floor, and, having no apartments over them, get light from above by lantern windows and domes. Below the surface are a still larger number of rooms, and here are the vaults in which the Bank treasure is kept secure.

Let us walk into this famous Bank, and watch the cashiers shovelling out gold coins as if they were so many brass buttons. The amount of silver and gold brought to the Bank, in coins and in bars, is something marvellous. It is stored away in the bullion room, until sent to the Mint to be coined. A single bar of gold weighs about sixteen pounds, and is worth about eight hundred pounds. In the weighing-room there is a wonderful little machine for weighing the sovereigns. It does not require any one to hold it, but seems of its own accord, and always without a mistake, to detect the light coins. It sends the correct ones down one tube, to be passed into the Bank; and the light ones down another, to be slit across in the clipping machine. These are then sent to the hot furnaces of the Mint to be recoined. Thus within one minute thirty-three sovereigns are weighed in the balances and pronounced good or bad. And never a light one will that sensible machine pass with the good, nor a good one within the bad. What a lesson it teaches us! We too shall be ‘ weighed in the balances’ at that last great day. There will be no possibility of mistake in that just judgment, and we shall be either passed or rejected, rewarded or punished, according to our lives. Let us seek by God’s grace so to live that we shall not be ‘ found wanting.’

Amongst other curiosities are the remarkable bank-notes signed by illustrious persons ; and a bank-note for twenty-five pounds that has been out in circulation for 111 years. When a note is cashed at the Bank, a corner is torn off, and, after its number is entered in a book, it is put away in the bank-note library, amongst millions of others, until at the end of ten years it is brought out with all those that were shut up with it in the same month, and all are burned in a large furnace kept for that purpose. In our peaceful days it is only necessary to have a small body of foot soldiers to guard the Bank at night time. But there have been times in its history, times of riotous discontent, when both foot and horse soldiers have had to mass in large numbers, and have even found it necessary to charge and fire upon the excited mob to protect it from their violence.

2 Responses

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  1. Marcelo said, on May 18, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Nice picture Roger. I really like it.

  2. […] more on the Bank of England see post No. 57 and for more on beheadings see post No. 125. R.D.] Share this:StumbleUponDiggRedditLike this:LikeBe […]


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