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Directors' parlours, 1805-1807 (20)

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As Princes Street was re-aligned and the Barracks were moved to the north, more space was apportioned to the south-west wing, enabling the directors' parlours to be re-arranged and expanded. This suite of offices, waiting rooms and committee rooms had been relatively unchanged since their construction in 1765. Soane's re-design retained much of the original layout, maintaining the domestically scaled and richly ornamented interior. Sir Robert Taylor's entrance lobby, Court and Committee Rooms were retained.

The building committee approved Soane's designs for the offices in March 1807 but he continued to refine the layout of the rooms. Working drawings for the lobbies are dated November 1807, suggesting that construction was underway by the end of the year. The Building Committee minutes report that the waiting rooms were completed by Lady Day (25 March) 1808.

The Bank was managed by the court of directors, twenty-six appointed stock-holders. Directors qualified by owning at least £2,000 in shares of Bank Stock. The Deputy Governor owned £3,000 and the Governor £4,000. The Governor and Deputy Governor retained offices at the Bank, just south of the Waiting Room Court. Either the Governor or Deputy, accompanied by three directors, were expected to keep a daily presence at the Bank. The other directors only came once a week, meeting in the Court Room built by Robert Taylor. The Committee of Treasury was comprised of all Directors who have served as Governor, and also met regularly in the committee rooms. A new office was built in 1807 for the Secretary of the Treasury Comittee.

The antechamber to the Governor's Room had busts of William Pitt and Charles Jame Fox sculpted by Joseph Nollekens (Timbs). It was recorded in 1814 that the lobby oustide the Governor's room had a portrait of Abraham Newland, Chief Cashier of the Bank from 1782 until 1807, and a portrait by Thomas Hickey of David Race, who was also a Chief Cashier (Britton).

A drawing for the directors' parlours is among a collection of Soane's drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, showing an interior view of the Long Passage.

Literature: J. Britton, The beauties of England and Wales: or, Delineations, topographical, historical, and descriptive, of each county, Volume X, Part 1, 1814, pp. 561-562; J. Francis, History of the Bank of England: its times and traditions, vol. 2, 1847, p. 234-238; J. Timbs, Curiosities of London: exhibiting the most rare and remarkable objects of interest in the metropolis, London, 1855, pp. 23-26; P. du Prey, Sir John Soane, 1985, in series of 'Catalogues of architectural drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum', catalogue 150.

Madeleine Helmer, 2011



Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation

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Sir John Soane's collection includes some 30,000 architectural, design and topographical drawings which is a very important resource for scholars worldwide. His was the first architect’s collection to attempt to preserve the best in design for the architectural profession in the future, and it did so by assembling as exemplars surviving drawings by great Renaissance masters and by the leading architects in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries and his near contemporaries such as Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam and George Dance the Younger. These drawings sit side by side with 9,000 drawings in Soane’s own hand or those of the pupils in his office, covering his early work as a student, his time in Italy and the drawings produced in the course of his architectural practice from 1780 until the 1830s.

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Contents of Directors' parlours, 1805-1807 (20)