Joseph Hettrick, Bank of England Archive Assistant
Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) has, almost inevitably, been best remembered for his feats of architecture. The Bank of England only moved to its own premises twelve years after Wren’s death, therefore it has no extant architectural connections to Wren. It does, however, hold the dubious distinction of responsibility for the first destruction of a Wren church, in 1782. St. Christopher-le-Stocks on Threadneedle Street was remodelled by Wren following the Great Fire of London (1666). In 1734, the Bank of England moved its premises near to the church, on the site of the house of its first Governor, Sir John Houblon. Following the Gordon Riots of 1780, the Bank’s architect, Robert Taylor, was commissioned to expand and secure the Bank. In the ensuing rebuild, the spire of St. Christopher’s was determined to pose too great a risk to the Bank below as a potential vantage point for any would-be attackers. The Bank was granted permission, by the Bishop of London, to knock down the church, provided that it absorbed the burial ground within its plans. This became the first Garden Court of the Bank, until the bodies were re-inhumed in Nunhead during Herbert Baker’s twentieth-century redesign.