Address: Threadneedle Street, London EC2R 8AH


Time: Museum 10.00am - 5.00pm Mon - Fri

Time Information:

Phone: 0207 601 4878, (museum 0207 601 5545)

Entry Price: Free

300m from Cannon Street

50m from Bank

When William IV and Mary II came to power in 1688, the UK was a major trading nation, but its finance system hadn’t progressed at the same rate. An organised method of money and credit was needed and the public called for a national bank.

To compound the urgency, England’s navy had become considerably weak in global terms and were defeated by the powerful French fleet in the Battle of Beachy Head in 1690. They needed considerable investment to protect the nation against foreign powers and swift action was required.

In 1691, William Paterson came up with the idea of inviting the public to subscribe to a fund for the benefit of the government. He proposed a target figure of £1,200,000. This was to set up the bank, with half going to the navy and in return the subscribers would be incorporated as ‘The Governor and Company of the Bank of England’, receiving due benefits. The scheme was implemented in 1694 by Charles Montagu and took only 12 days to raise the funds. The effect of navy investment rejuvenated the British economy.

The bank opened in Mercers’ Hall in Cheapside with 17 clerks and 2 gatekeepers, moving to Grocers’ Hall in Princes Street soon after. It moved to its present site in Threadneedle Street in 1734.

It became the government’s banker and debt manager and also became a commercial bank. It gave the government loans and helped borrowing, most importantly at wartime when, as an example in WW1, the debt reached £7bn.

Over the years the bank has become central to holding national reserves, issuing bank notes and stipulating national financial policy. On the current three acre site the bank have a public museum showing its history.

The bank is a British institution, an integral part of world finance and one of the most famous London landmarks.

The museum images below form only part of the exhibits on show and displays can often change.

Click on the pics below for an enlarged view and use the arrow towards the right edge of each pic to go on to the next.