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Bullion Office, 1807-1808 (6)

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The Bullion Office was located in the heart of the Bank. It had been built originally by George Sampson in 1734, subsequently altered by Robert Taylor and then expanded during the north-east extension of 1797. In March 1806 the Building Committee requested plans for the new office, and Soane's design was approved on June 1806. The building was constructed by October 1807 but not yet 'fitted up'. In October Soane presented a design for the interior, which was approved. The office was ready for occupation in February 1808. The east and west sides of the Bullion Court were rebuilt, the west wall being a part of the new Long Passage in scheme 3:10.

The Bullion Office was responsible for the supervision of the Bank's store of gold coin, and for the physical handling and custody of all the Bank's gold (Hennessey, p. 243). Gold was brought through the entrance on Lothbury and unloaded in the Bullion Court. The gold was unpacked and weighed, and stamped with a serial number, a letter, and an impression of the Bank of England medallion. The bullion was stored in the vaults under the Bank (3:14), which were altered and expanded over the years. Two principal vaults were adjacent to the Bullion Office: one for the Bank's reserves and the other for the public's bullion. The Bank offered free storage for bullion, only charging for the bullion to be weighed. All the gold was kept in bars, the silver kept in pigs and bars, and the dollars in bags (Timbs).

See M 281 for a model of the Bullion Office with three segmental vaults that can be removed to show the plaster ribbing of the ceiling. For a preliminary design of the extended Bullion Office, as it was proposed to the Building Committee December 10th 1805, see SM 9/4/32, drawing 8 in phase 3:1.

Literature: J. Timbs, Curiosities of London: exhibiting the most rare and remarkable objects of interest in the metropolis, London, 1855, pp. 23-26; M. Acres, The Bank of England from within, 1931; E. Hennessy, A domestic history of the Bank of England, 1992; M. Richardson and M.A. Stevens (eds), John Soane architect: master of space and light, 1999, p.248, fig.163 (model); D. Abramson, Building the Bank of England: money, architecture, society 1694-1942, 2005, p.179, fig. 217.

Madeleine Helmer, 2011

Madeleine Helmer, 2011



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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 Bullion Office, 1807-1808 (6)