I had no idea there was a Bank of England Museum. There definitely is, though, because I went there today. One of those lovely museums dotted anonymously throughout London.
And just a little tidbit for Bob…the Bank of England that stood on the spot where the present Bank of England stands, was designed by Sir John Soane. I mention it because Bob’s been to his house.
The Bank of England is, arguably, the oldest purpose built bank in the world. Though the bank started off in rented premises in 1694, when it was granted a Royal Charter. And there was no stopping it after that.
It moved from rental accommodation into the present site in 1734…though the building was a lot smaller then. Gradually, through the years, it has taken over the entire block.
The museum was excellent. Lots of lovely facts and artefacts, jokes aplenty and fantastic photographs of early London buildings. And not too big. I was there for half and hour and saw everything.
My favourite bit was…actually there’s two. Firstly the Roman gold bar is pretty impressive. Secondly, watching a gold bar telling the story of it’s journey from ground to bank vault in Stephen Fry’s voice, was delightful.
The caryatids were delightful as well. They were designed by Sir John Soane to grace the inner dome of the old Dividend Office. When his bank was demolished, they were kept safe and are now a big part of the museum, standing in the rotunda, seemingly guarding the display cases.
The museum (and, indeed, the bank) is just around the corner from the Chinese visa centre, which is why I was there. And, yes, we are off to China! Our passports were returned to me, each containing a Chinese visa, allowing our entry and (hopefully) departure in and out of the country.
Now I can get excited about the trip.
I was amazed by the lack of people at the centre this afternoon. The main room had one person waiting and downstairs, where you collect your passport, had four. I was only there for 20 minutes and 15 of them were spent waiting. The whole visa thing has turned out to be quite painless.
I had to leave Dave just after lunch to go into London so I didn’t get to see the progress on the room until late tonight. Still…here’s what it looked like before I went to bed.