The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 28 Bank of England, Royal Exchange, Mansion House

Royal Exchange

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Opposite the Bank, in the angle formed by Threadneedle Street and Cornhill, stands the Royal Exchange, erected by Tite in 1842-44. It is the third building of its kind on this spot; the first Exchange, erected by Sir Thomas Gresham in 1564-70, was burned down in 1666, and the second (by Jarman) in 1838. The building is preceded by a Corinthian portico and a wide flight of steps (one of the spots from which a new sovereign is proclaimed). The tympanum group, by Westmacott, represents Commerce holding the charter of the Exchange and attended by the Lord Mayor, British merchants, and natives of various foreign nations. On the architrave are the words 'The Earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof' (Psalm xxiv. 1). At the east end of the building is a campanile, 180 feet high, with a statue of Sir Thomas Gresham on its east face and a gilded vane in the form of a grasshopper (Gresham's crest). A new set of chimes (13 bells) was hung here in 1921. The sides and back of the Exchange are disfigured by shops. The Exchange is open to the public, but ladies are not admitted during the chief business hours, 3.30-4 daily and 2-2.30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The interior, a quadrangular covered court, with colonnades, has a tessellated pavement of Turkey stone dating from the original Exchange. The statue of Queen Victoria, in the centre, is by Hamo Thornycroft. In the east corners are statues of Queen Elizabeth (by Watson) and Charles II. (by John Spiller). The wall-panels of the arcades contain paintings, in spirit-fresco, illustrating the development of Commerce, Liberty, and Education and portraits of historic citizens. The electric lights above the paintings are switched on on application at the porter's lodge or to a constable on duty. To the left of the main entrance: Ancient Commerce (Phoenicians in Cornwall), by Lord Leighton; Alfred the Great rebuilding the City walls (circa 886), by Frank O. Salisbury; William the Conqueror granting a Charter to the Citizens of London in 1066, by Seymour Lucas; William II. building the Tower of London, by C. Goldsborough; Women's Work in the Great War, 1914-18, by Lucy Kemp-Welch; King John sealing Magna Charta in 1215, by Ernest Normand King George and Queen Mary visiting the battlefields of France in 1917, by F. 0. Salisbury; Thanksgiving Service for Peace on the steps of St. Paul's Cathedral (July 6th, 1919), by F. O. Salisbury; Master of the Vintners' Company entertaining the Kings of England, France, Scotland, Denmark, and Cyprus in 1363, by A. Chevallier Tayler; Burning of the Second Royal Exchange (1838), by Stanhope Forbes; Richard Whittington dispensing his charities (circa 1400), by Henrietta Rae (Mrs. Normand); Philip the Good presenting a Charter to the Merchant Adventurers, by E. A. Cox; Trained Bands marching to support Edward IV. at the Battle of Barnet in 1471, by J. H. Amschewitz; Blocking of Zeebrugge waterway (April 23rd, 1918), by W. L. Wyllie; Reconciliation of the Skinners' and Merchant Taylors' Companies by the Lord Mayor in 1484, by Edwin A. Abbey; Crown offered to Richard III. at Baynard's Castle in 1483, by S. Goetze; Foundation of St. Paul's School in 1509, by W. F. Yeames; Queen Elizabeth opening Gresham's Exchange in 1571, by Ernest Crofts; Charles I. demanding the surrender of the Five Members at the Guildhall in 1642, by S. J. Solomon; The Great Fire of London (1666), by Stanhope Forbes; Granting the Charter for the Foundation of the Bank of England (1694), by Geoffrey Harcourt; Nelson leaving Portsmouth, 18th May, 1803, to join H.M.S. 'Victory,' by A. C. Gow; Queen Victoria opening the present Exchange in 1844, by R. W. Macbeth; Modern Commerce, by Frank Brangwyn.