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image MR20

Model for the Bank of England, London, Bank Stock Office, designed by Sir John Soane, made by Joseph Parkins, 1793

Painted wood, copper and yellow glass

Height: 20cm
Width: 88cm
Depth: 29.5cm

Museum number: MR20

Curatorial note

Soane was appointed architect to the Bank of England in 1788 and proceeded to make surveys of the Bank buildings. The roof of Sir Robert Taylor’s Bank Stock Office was discovered to be in a poor state of repair, its timbers rotting ‘owing to perforations in the lead covering which had admitted the wet, and decayed the bearings of the main girders’ (Bolton). Substantial rebuilding was required and, as Soane informs us in Designs for Public and Private Buildings, ‘Plans and models were then prepared for constructing the roof of the Office on stone piers, with arches springing from them’. In Volume III of the registers of Bank Accounts, Soane’s charges from Michaelmas 1793 to Lady Day 1794 include those for ‘Making sundry Models and extra drawings for the same for the new Bank Stock Office to assist the Workmen… 58:0:0’.

Only this model survives today. One of the models to have been lost is described in the register of Bank Accounts for 1792 (Vol II, P.103). On May 19th Soane’s coppersmith Samuel Rehe submitted an £18 bill ‘For a model of Brass for the Roof with Iron Rafters, Pillars & Fretwork &c over the (Bank Stock) Offices’.

Soane started working on the design of the Bank Stock Office in November 1791 and by March 1792 had arrived at the basis of the final design (see Sir J. Summerson’s Photo Index). This model illustrates the executed design: the decorative panels to walls and arches and the iron work to the roof appear in simplified form; counters run around the office between the piers and desks line the outer walls. At the centre is circular plinth on which once stood an ornamental pedestal (now missing). This had originally been intended to serve as a vent for a complex floor heating system, and was eventually used as an outlet for the stove in the basement immediately below.

As the model shows the executed design, it is likely to be that mentioned in volume II of Soane’s Journal of Accounts, dated 1793. The model maker was Joseph Parkin who, from the beginning of February to the beginning of March 1793, was ‘About Model of Bank Stock Office’ for a total of 22 days. He was not paid until December 9th 1793 when he received £8. 11s. 4d.

Exhibition history

John Soane Architect: Master of Space and Light, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 11 September - 3 December 1999; Centro Palladio, Vicenza, April - August 2000; Hôtel de Rohan, Paris, January - April 2001; Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal, 16 May - 3 September 2001; Real Academia des Bellas Artes, Madrid, October - December 2001

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk