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Home > Education and Museum > The Bank of England's early years: 1694 to 1800

The Bank of England's early years: 1694 to 1800

This section of the museum explores the first 100 or so years of the Bank of England, starting with its founding in 1694.

The Founding of the Bank of England

Founding the Bank of England

The Bank of England was founded to raise money during a time of war against France. Money raised from private investors was lent to the Government, and the Bank was established by Royal Charter in 1694. You can see the original charter in this part of the Museum.

The Bank was located in rented buildings for its first 40 years, but we moved to our own building on Threadneedle Street in 1734. During the eighteenth century the Bank grew steadily in size and importance, and by the 1790s it was firmly established as a government bank, managing the national debt.


The Napoleonic Wars and the Bank Restriction Period The Old Lady

The Napoleonic Wars had a serious effect on the economy. In 1797, we were forced to put limits on swapping our notes for gold to make sure we still had sufficient gold reserves. This was a highly controversial move at the time. The Bank of England's famous nickname, ‘The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street’, comes from this time, from a 1797 cartoon by the satirist James Gillray.

Key Resources

See money come to life - museum guide