The Bank of England
, formally the Governor and Company of the Bank of England
, is the central bank
of the United Kingdom and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694, it is the second oldest central bank in the world, after the Sveriges Riksbank, and the world's 8th oldest bank. It was established to act as the English Government's banker and is still one of the bankers for the Government of the United Kingdom. The Bank was privately owned by stockholders
from its foundation in 1694 until it was nationalised in 1946.
In 1998, it became an independent public organisation, wholly owned by the Treasury Solicitor on behalf of the government, with independence
in setting monetary policy
The Bank is one of eight banks authorised to issue banknotes in the United Kingdom, but has a monopoly on the issue of banknotes in England and Wales and regulates the issue of banknotes by commercial banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The Bank's Monetary Policy Committee has devolved responsibility for managing monetary policy. The Treasury has reserve powers to give orders to the committee "if they are required in the public interest
and by extreme economic circumstances" but such orders must be endorsed by Parliament within 28 days. The Bank's Financial Policy Committee held its first meeting in June 2011 as a macro prudential regulator
to oversee regulation of the UK's financial sector.
The Bank's headquarters
have been in London's main financial district, the City of London, on Threadneedle Street, since 1734. It is sometimes known by the metonym The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street
or The Old Lady
, a name taken from the legend of Sarah Whitehead, whose ghost is said to haunt the Bank's garden
. The busy road junction outside is known as Bank junction.
As a regulator and central bank, the Bank of England has not offered consumer banking services for many years, but it still does manage some public-facing services such as exchanging superseded bank notes. Until 2016, the bank provided personal banking services as a popular privilege for employees.