- The drawings from the office of Sir John Soane
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The Discount Office was built because the Bank's discounting business was increasing and it had outgrown its location in the Pay Hall. A discount is an allowance paid on account of the immediate advance of a sum of money not due until some future period. The clerks at the Discount Office calculated the simple interest for the time the bill had to run, called the discount, and subtracted the amount from the amount paid to the presenter of the bill.
The initial design for the Discount Office was a square room with an aisle. Ground floor plans show that an office with a similar layout was built by Soane in 1793 (see SM 9/3/3) but was demolished for the north-west expansion, suggesting that Soane modelled this new Office on a previous (possibly Discount) office. This simple design was approved by the Directors in October 1805 but Soane continued altering the design to fit a cruciform plan, with two barrel-vaulted end bays. The entrance aisle, however, was retained, as it was the area for the public to pass through. A lobby was located to the north of the Office, apparently modelled on 'a portion of the remains of [H]Adrian's Villa'(Britton), with two pairs of Ionic columns at both ends of a top-lit centre bay, forming two screens of columns through which the visitor passed.
The west side of the Bullion Court was demolished to build a wider north-south corridor, called the Long Passage. The passage appears to have consisted of a succession of semicircular-headed arches. Three windows on the east side overlooked the Bullion Court. It ran north to the Secretary’s Office and turned west towards the Accountant’s Office. The Long Passage was completed in June 1806.
See SM 9/2/7, drawing 18 in 3:9, for a general plan of the Bank that shows the Discount Office, Long Passage, and adjacent offices as built in 1808. See SM 9/4/37, drawing 11 in 3:9, for a preliminary design of the Discount Office and Long Passage. Soane presented a proposal for various alterations to the bank in December 1805, including the design for the Long Passge and Discount Office (see SM 9/4/32, drawing 6 in 3:1).
Literature: J. Britton, The Beauties of England and Wales: or, Delineations, topographical, historical, and descriptive, of each county, Volume X, Part 1, 1814, p. 565; J.R. McCulloch, A Dictionary, practical, theoretical, and historical, of commerce and commercial navigation, London, 1850, p. 489; W. Marston Acres, The Bank of England from within, Oxford, 1931, pp. 399-401.
Madeleine Helmer, 2011
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.
Browse (via the vertical menu to the left) and search results for Drawings include a mixture of Concise catalogue records – drawn from an outline list of the collection – and fuller records where drawings have been catalogued in more detail (an ongoing process).
Contents of Discount Office and Long Passage, 1805-1806 (31)
- Preliminary design for a Discount Office, 24 October 1805
- Design for the Discount Office lobby with a coved ceiling, skylight, paired Ionic columns and a door on the north wall, 26 and 31 October 1805 (2)
- Design for the east side of the Discount Office with three clerestory windows and an entrance aisle screened by piers supporting a segmental arch, 2 November 1805
- Design for the Discount Office with, at each end, three clerestory windows and an aisle screened by piers supporting a segmental arch and faced with pilasters, 15 November 1805 (2)
- Design for the Discount Office with, at each end, a segmental clerestory window and an aisle screened by piers supporting a segmental arch and faced with pilasters, 16 November 1805 (2)
- Design for the Discount Office with north and south arms separated from the central area by segmental arches, and no clerestory windows, 20 November 1805
- Design for the Discount Office with north and south arms separated from the central area by segmental arches, 17 November 1805
- Design for the Discount Office with north and south arms separated from the central area by segmental arches, and design for the lobby with a lantern, 18 and 20 November 1805 (2)
- Presentation drawing for the Discount Office Lobby, showing the room without a north door, 19 November 1805
- Design for the pedimented wall ornament in the Discount Office Lobby, 27 November 1805
- Design for the Discount Office with north and south arms separated from the central area by semicircular arches, one dated 27 November 1805 (5)
- Presentation drawings of the Discount Office with barrel vaulted end bays, one dated December 1805 (5)
- Designs and record drawing for the ornament in the Discount Office (4)
- Variant designs for ornament in the Long Passage, April 1806 (2)
- Design for a fan light in the Discount Office