Bank of England – Tivoli Corner

I took advantage of the road closures for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee to sketch this corner of the Bank of England.

Bank of England – Tivoli Corner, 2nd June 2022, in Sketchbook 12
Temple of Vesta, Tivoli, modern photo from Wikipedia Commons on this link

This is the North-West corner of the Bank of England. The perimeter wall was designed by John Soane in 1805. The design of the corner was inspired by the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli.

The John Soane museum has a marvellous digital archive with detailed notes on his work on the Bank of England. John Soane was surveyor to the Bank of England for 45 years, from 1788 to 1833. During that time the role of the Bank of England changed from a small bank helping out the government with the national debt, to a significant national institution, printing money and managing Income Tax. The Soane museum archive notes:

Since its foundation in 1694, the Bank of England had financed Britain’s wars and managed the national debt. War, therefore, resulted in more business for the Bank, demanding extensive alterations and additions. Soane’s vast building work was largely the result of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars that lasted from 1793 to 1815. More space was required as the staff doubled during this time and the bank note printing process was carried out on site. In addition, new offices were required as the Bank’s responsibilities and roles changed, such as a place for managing the newly instituted Income Tax of 1799.

Madeleine Helmer, 2010-2011, on this link © Sir John Soane’s Museum, London

Here is a view from the North-West in 1807, showing the John Soane Bank of England as constructed. You see the Tivoli Corner, which is there today.

North face of the Bank of England, exhibited in the Royal Academy 1809, by “John Soane Archt 1807” Photo: © Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, http://collections.soane.org/OBJECT3718

John Soane’s 3-storey building was demolished to make way for a new 7-storey building constructed 1925-39 by Herbert Baker. Soane’s perimeter wall was retained, but everything else was replaced. It is Herbert Baker who is responsible for that dome in my drawing, and also for the marvellous walk-through passage at this corner. You can see the North side of the passage in my drawing. For more photos of this passage and a description, I recommend the wonderful “IanVisits” site. Ian visits Tivoli Corner on this link. Or go there! And look up.

I took advantage of the road closure to sketch standing in Moorgate.

As I sketched, people walked past either side of me, in extraordinary hats. Everyone was cheerful and the sun shone. I enjoyed chatting to the various people who stopped to examine my drawing or comment on the view.

Pen, before the colour went on

You see the traffic bollards in the drawing. Those were patiently removed by a security guard every time a police vehicle approached, and equally patiently replaced. This must have happened about six times in the hour and half I was there.

Site progress drawings 1798. Joseph Michael Gandy (1771-1843) Photo: © Sir John Soane’s Museum, London SM (58) volume 69/14

The John Soane archive notes on Tivoli corner are on this link. This site has some lively “work-in-progress” drawings of the construction of the Bank of England. Here is one. See how modern it looks! It was drawn in 1798, the same year that Nelson fought Napoleon in the Battle of the Nile.

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