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Directors' parlours, 1805-1807 (20)

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
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