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Barracks and Bank Note Printing Office, 1791 and 1796 (2)

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The Barracks housed the thirty soldiers and three officers of the King's Guard who kept watch at the Bank each night. The Barracks was a part of Robert Taylor's new south-west wing, which had been only partly constructed between 1783 and the architect's death in 1788. Soane took over the completion of the wing, including building the Barracks at the north-west corner. In April 1790, Soane presented his plan for a Barracks with a Printing Office above.

The Bank decided to build its Barracks after the Gordon Riots of June 1780. The Bank had been attacked on three occassions by the angry mob. In the riot's aftermath, the church of St Christopher le Stocks was acquired by the Bank and demolished and a nightly guard was instituted. From 1780, thirty soldiers of the King's Guard kept watch at the Bank each night. They were accompanied by two senior officers who the Bank honoured with a complimentary meal each evening.

Heavy rustication around the doors, pyramids of cannon balls and an unadorned front contributed to the military tone of the Barracks building. Plaques inscribed 'Order' and 'Discipline' were postioned over the side portals. The Barracks were closed off from the rest of the Bank, accessed through a separate entrance on Princes Street.

The Barracks were moved into the north-west extension in 1805, for which more drawings exist in a separate scheme (3:11). Just as the original Barracks, the north-west building was integrated with the printing offices, and had a separate entrance for the guard.

Literature: E. Marston Acres, The Bank of England from within, London, 1931. pp. 220, 387-91; D. Abramson, Money's architecture: The Building of the Bank of England, 1731-1833, Doctoral thesis for the Department of Fine Arts, Harvard University, 1993, p. 336.

Madeleine Helmer, 2010

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Contents of Barracks and Bank Note Printing Office, 1791 and 1796 (2)