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Home > Education and Museum > The Rotunda: 1800 to 1946

The Rotunda: 1800 to 1946

The Rotunda, 1800 – 1946 The Rotunda: 1800 to 1946 

During the 1800s, the Bank of England continued to grow, and we consolidated our position as the nation’s bank. This became even more important during the First World War, when the national debt surged dramatically. Our old buildings became much too small for our increased number of staff – so between 1925 and 1939 the bank was entirely rebuilt and expanded by the architect Sir Herbert Baker. The statues around the Rotunda, called caryatids, were original features of Sir John Soane’s bank, and were salvaged for use in the new building.​




Hold some gold!Nationalisation

We took on the functions of a modern central bank during the interwar years, managing the country’s gold and foreign exchange reserves and executing monetary policy. This role was formalised when we were taken into public ownership in 1946.

Hold some gold!

In this part of the museum you can get hands-on with a genuine bar of gold.

Careful, though – at 13kg (28lb) it’s very heavy!