Building the Bank of England

Money, Architecture, Society 1694-1942

Daniel M. Abramson

View Inside Price: $90.00

November 10, 2005
320 pages, 10 x 12
180 b/w + 77 color illus.
ISBN: 9780300109245

Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

The Bank of England symbolizes the economic strength, influence, and potency of Britain. Founded in 1694, its world-famous buildings were built and rebuilt four times by different architects, most notably Sir John Soane. The Bank’s three-and-aquarter-acre complex has included elegant public banking halls and private offices, courtyards and gardens, warehouses and vaults, residential apartments and guards’ barracks. This lavishly illustrated book examines for the first time the entire architectural history of the Bank from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries.
Drawing on a variety of perspectives, the book relates the history of the Bank of England to current debates on English economic, social, and urban history, including issues of national identity, mercantile politics, and the commercialization of culture. The book also shows how the building itself has expressed various historical tensions among the Bank’s inhabitants and publics: its directors and detractors, its clerks and clientele, its tourists, and even its mob attackers.

Daniel M. Abramson is associate professor of architectural history and director of architectural studies at Tufts University.

"...[an] exhaustive study of the Bank's evolution...a classic."—Andrew Mead, AJ

“A major undertaking and a comprehensive look into the interconnection between architectural design and social history, this volume will stand as a standard in the study of architecture for some time to come.”—Art Times

'This book is magnificently documented and sumptuously produced and illustrated, making it a key reference book for every stage of the bank's architecture... I longed for more.' - Marcus Binney, Country Life

'Although this admirable book is primarily a lavishly illustrated architectural history, Abramson's approach to his topic gives insight into institutional character formation, from the interplay of its governance to the evolution of its role within the national economy.' - Gillian Darley, The Times Literary Supplement

“…an imaginative and wide-ranging investigation of the relationship between the institution and architecture… Acute analysis runs through the book and helps, as Abramson aims, to show ‘what architectural history can teach history’ through one intense study.” - Jeremy Melvin, The Architectural Review

“Daniel M. Abramson’s handsomely produced and well-illustrated monograph on the Bank of England is an architectural history of the Bank in its fullest sense, encompassing the financial, political and social imperatives that led to the creation of the buildings that house this great British institution.” - Tim Knox, Burlington Magazine

"Abramson's words weave a rich tapestry of ideas, people, urban environments, architectural theory, financial methods, and the changing world of Britain through four centuries. He has written a masterful study of the manner in which architecture embodies its creators' aspirations and speaks to the public, and has convincingly demonstrated how a consolidated financial and civic role can be expressed through architecture. His history of buildings is populated by the individuals who conceived the structures and utilized them. This is the type of interdisciplinary study that benefits multiple fields by placing each in context rather than in academic isolation."—Marilyn Casto, Enterprise and Society

"Brilliant. . . . [Abramson's] account of Sloane's Bank is more skilful, beautiful, and comprehensive than any written previously: without question, it will be the definitive one."—David Watkin, English Historical Review

"Starting with the Bank's first rented accommodations in Grocers' Hall, and ending with the reconstruction of Sir John Soane's lost Bank Stock Office in 1986-88, Abramson charts the twists and turns of the intervening centuries with commendable clarity."—Paul M. Hunneyball, Urban History
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