Look At London’s Most Beautiful Bank (That’s Now Becoming a Spoons)

When thinking of London’s most beautiful interiors, churches, townhouses and civic buildings might spring to mind.

Bank branches probably wouldn’t.

Sadly, 222 Strand closed on 14 August 2017. However, for a glimpse of its interior splendour, read on!

LOOK INSIDE

London's Most Beautiful Bank

The Lobby.

London's Most Beautiful Bank

Detail of the ornamental fountain in the Lobby.

London's Most Beautiful Bank

Decorative ironwork over the Lobby entrance, a beehive is a symbol for workers.

London's Most Beautiful Bank

THE HISTORY

Since 1612 the site had been occupied by the Palsgrave Head Tavern, a favourite haunt of the playwright Ben Johnson, and named after Frederick Palsgrave who married Princess Elizabeth, James I’s daughter.

London's Most Beautiful Bank

The Palsgrave Arms just inside the Lobby.

London's Most Beautiful Bank

Portrait of Ben Johnson, playwright, who used to come here when it was the Palsgrave Tavern.

What Came Next?

The Tavern was demolished in 1883 to make way for the ‘Royal Courts of Justice Restaurant’ (The Royal Courts of Justice having been completed over 9 years and finished in 1882).

The restaurant, despite its sumptuous interior by Goymour Cuthbert and William Wimble, wasn’t a success and failed to attract lawyers and clients from over the road. It closed after 3 years and remained unoccupied until 1895, when it was converted into a Lloyds bank branch.

Automatic doors leading from the Lobby.

Described by the Penny Illustrated Paper as “the handsomest and most elegant bar bank in London” the ‘lobby’ feels like you’re standing in a decorative church, complete with ornamental fountains at each end and decorative tiles (from the Royal Doulton Company) depicting flora and Fauna.

London's Most Beautiful Bank

Royal Doulton tiles inside the main bank.

London's Most Beautiful Bank

Details of the decorative mosaics and tiling on the Lobby.

Great Trivia

But the best piece of trivia – printed on an information sheet inside – is the fact that the original dining room was ventilated by a pair of women riding a tandem bicycle which powered a huge pair of bellows. As ludicrous as this sounds, a bicycle-like piece of equipment was found during refurbishments, connected to the pipework!

UPDATE

As of January 2020, Councillors have approved the pub’s plan to convert the ground floor and mezzanine into a 27,000 square foot bar serving food and drink to up to 591 customers.

The building receive Grade II listed status in 1987. The listing on the Historic England website details the exterior but not much of the interior, so fingers crossed it will all remain as glorious as before.

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8 Comments

  • Thanks, Katie: that’s wonderful. Can anyone just walk in and ogle?

    September 14, 2016 at 8:27 am
  • Katie, thank you for sharing the pictures of 222 Strand, what a truly amazing building; I hope Spoons will keep this extraordinary interior, it would certainly bring in clients, who would enjoy eating and drinking around such splendor!

    January 22, 2020 at 3:39 pm
  • Ariana Say

    Reply

    Hi Katie, Thank you for the pictures of this magnificent bank. I’m sorry it’s going to be a Wetherspoons but at least they have deep enough pockets to keep it alive. Beauty like this should always be spared and appreciated. I do hope they are taking that into serious consideration. I don’t suppose there is mention of an opening date for the restaurant? I look forward to seeing what they do, I think!

    January 22, 2020 at 4:22 pm
  • Georgia Colason

    Reply

    If they change one particle of any part of that glorious builing they should be beaten severly!

    Georgia Coalson

    January 23, 2020 at 1:45 am
  • Libby Covington

    Reply

    Thanks for this one, Katie! I look forward to your update when it opens as Spoons and hope that this luscious interior will survive.

    July 17, 2020 at 6:03 am

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