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The Old Bank of England, EC4

194 Fleet Street
Phone: 02074302255

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: 7 of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

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Rex Rattus left this review about The Old Bank of England

I paid my first visit to this magnificent pub since its fairly recent takeover by McMullens. Four handpumps were clipped, but seeing my interest in them the barman immediately told me that McMullen's AK and IPA were "coming soon", leaving only McMullen's Country, and London Pride for some reason. That's not particularly good for a pub of this size. On the plus side, the helpful barman checked the availability with the kitchen of a particular sandwich that Mrs R ordered as it was showing as unavailable on the till. Sandwiches were around £7 or £8 as I recall.

As far as I could tell McMullen's haven't made any changes to it, and I can't imagine why they would want to. This is still one of the more spectacular pubs around, even if it wasn't originally built as a pub.

On 18th March 2019 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2577 recommendations about 2495 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

hondo . left this review about The Old Bank of England

Can't add to the extensive reviews of the interior below. Fuller's seem to have nailed the bank conversion modus operandi and this is well worth a look.

On 25th November 2016 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 2761 recommendations about 2703 pubs]

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Pub SignMan left this review about The Old Bank of England

Built in the 1880's as the Law Court's branch of the Bank of England, this is now a magnificent example of an opulent bank conversion, operating under the Fuller's Ale and Pie House brand. The Grade I listed building was converted into a pub back in 1994 and has retained a lot of features from the building's original guise. The main room is a vast open space with a huge, imposing island servery in the centre. A dark wood counter and high bar back is offset by some lovely etched glass screens and topped off with a large clock. Floor tiling runs around the bar area, with much of the rest of the room carpeted. The ceiling is remarkably high and boasts several huge chandeliers and some beautiful decorations. Huge windows run along the front wall, each with elaborate drapes at their sides. There is plenty of dark wood and marble throughout, including a number of pillars, and the end wall is dominated by some huge murals with a large clock set dramatically above. Seating is plentiful and includes plenty of comfy banquettes and a lot of standard tables and chairs that are ideal if you are hoping to eat here. To the rear there are some additional rooms, denoted as 'Dining Room' and 'Club Room', but both were being closed when I arrived late one Friday night, so I couldn't explore. I presume these would have previously been the bank's offices. The pub has a mezzanine area which allows you to appreciate the finery from a different perspective, although it seemed to be a bit smaller than those in some of Fuller's other bank conversions. A wander around the pub will uncover a lot of interesting items, including a few bits of banking memorabilia and some smaller paintings, all worthy of closer inspection. The pub also has a patio garden, which is most unusual in Central London, although I didn't actually manage to get a look myself.
A typical Fullers ale range was available, with the handpulls dispensing London Pride, ESB, Seafarers and Summer Ale, whilst Oliver's Island had just gone off. My pint of Sumer Ale was okay, if not quite as tasty as I remember it being. The staff were a bit brusque but I suppose they were nearing the end of a busy Friday night shift, so perhaps that's understandable.
I enjoy visiting these converted banks and think they are a good way of opening up interesting buildings to the wider public. This is a fine example and is well worth a look for the décor alone. Whilst it doesn't quite match up to Fuller's best conversions (Old Joint Stock, Counting House) it's still an interesting place to explore and a good place to take visitors for the 'wow-factor'.

On 13th September 2015 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2546 recommendations about 2546 pubs]

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Rex Rattus left this review about The Old Bank of England

This is another grand old former bank converted into a pub. It's a bit like walking into a baronial banquetting hall when you enter here. There are enormously high ceilings, massive windows, and gilding all over the place. The central island servery dominates the room with a tall dark wood stillion surmounted by a nice old clock taking centre stage. Seating is the usual mix of sofas, tall tables/tall stools and normal tables and chairs. On the left through a couple of archways, one signed as the Dining Room and the other as the Club Room, is another largish room where everyone, including a couple of large groups, was eating. There's more seating upstairs on a balcony/mezzanine floor, as well as in a small garden out at the back.

This is a Fuller's Ale & Pie House, so obviously it did Fuller's ales. I opted for the Wild River, but unfortunately it wasn't available, leaving Pride, Olivers Island, and Seafarers as the options. I have to say that it didn't feel much like a pub in here, with table service apparently being the order of the day. The incredibly lavish decor, and the fact that twice while I was sitting with my half I got asked if I had ordered yet, made me feel like I was in a posh restaurant.

However, this is another pub worth visiting to soak up a bit of its ambience, but I wouldn't visit here for a traditional pub experiennce.

On 15th June 2015 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2577 recommendations about 2495 pubs]

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Just a quick pint, then I'm off left this review about The Old Bank of England

Imposing former banking hall, famous for its richly-decorated interior; not only the main mural (incorporating a clock by Thwaites & Reed of Clerkenwell) but also the chandeliers, gilded mouldings and many other features of interest. The large island bar (with its finial clock) looks impressive at ground level, but if you go up to the balcony along the back wall it appears somewhat dwarfed by the grandeur of the space created by the double-height ceiling. Also has a "secret walled garden" which is not as interesting as it sounds. A total of 18 handpumps around the bar; but, with many in triplicate, the choice was Pride, Seafarers, ESB, Discovery and the seasonal Sticky Wicket (£4.15) on my latest visit. Also has the keg version of the Porter. Overall, well worth a visit even if you are not a particular fan of Fullers ales.

On 23rd August 2013 - rating: 8
[User has posted 6222 recommendations about 6222 pubs]

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Old Blue left this review about The Old Bank Of England

Superbly ornate must-see historic pub, as others have well described. On entering, the large central bar gleams at you, with its six highly polished handpumps on each of three sides (the fourth side being used for co-ordinating food orders etc), with the same range of five Fullers ales available on each, presently including Pride (twice) Chiswick, Discovery, ESB, and Bengal Lancer, ranging from £3.65 for Chiswick to £3.95 for the Lancer as I recall, and London Porter and Honeydew on tap. I find the beer here to be of consistently good quality, which it really ought to be given the pricing. They recently experimented with selling Fullers’ new 2.8% low-duty and ironically-named Mighty Atom at £3.35 a pint. It tasted surprisingly good, though not quite as good as the whisky chaser I felt obliged to have with it.

Upstairs provides the best vantage point and is usually quite comfortable. Alternatively if one fancies a smoke or some midday sun, the courtyard out the back is known as the ‘secret garden’, apparently for no reason other than that it isn’t signposted. It’s through the door to the left of the far stairs.

You wouldn’t make this your local boozer, but it’s a great pub to see and to take people to.

On 9th November 2011 - rating: 8
[User has posted 271 recommendations about 270 pubs]

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Roger Button left this review about The Old Bank Of England

Until the 1880’s this was the site of the Olde Cock Tavern that now stands on the other side of the road. The Law Courts branch of the Bank Of England was built in its place and things have has now gone full circle as the Bank became surplus to requirements and was bought by Fullers who have converted it into this impressive and quite opulent pub. Fullers probably do Bank conversions better than anyone (the Counting House in the City and Birmingham’s Old Joint Stock being 2 further examples) and the Old Bank of England is no exception.

Much of the buildings character has been retained with high ornate ceilings, large portraits and murals, towering chandeliers and large draped windows and centrepice island bar crowned with a four faced clock.

Although there are 18 hand pumps dotted around 3 sides of the bar there was only 5 different ales actually available, sourced of course from the Fullers/Gales range (Pride, ESB, Seafarers, Discovery & Chiswick). Prices are of course ridiculous (Discovery was £3.75 on my last visit) but sometimes it is worth paying that bit extra to soak up the magnificent surrounds, especially if you can bag a seat on the narrow upstairs balcony where you can gaze down on the cacophony of suited and booted down below. Food is also a bit steep for what is in effect general pub grub with main courses around £9-£10 which includes some speciality Fullers Pies.

The immediate area around Fleet Street contains many interesting and varied pubs that are worthy of an evening’s visit and if you can bag a table and afford an assault on the wallet, the Old Bank is certainly part of the club.

On 11th October 2011 - rating: 8
[User has posted 1238 recommendations about 1232 pubs]

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Real Ale Ray left this review about The Old Bank Of England

5 Star grandeur and well worth a look in, but still you'll pay for it. The Summer Ale was excellent have to say. Also sank down a Chiswick, which has a fab balance of hops. Will return.

On 14th August 2011 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2976 recommendations about 2976 pubs]

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Quinno _ left this review about The Old Bank Of England

Fullers pub which, as the name suggests, has been converted from an old bank and the conversion has retained a large amount of the original opulence. I won’t attempt to describe it in-depth here as I have uploaded some photos which explain it better than I can – basically think high-celinged room, elaborate cornices, gigantic windows, wall paintings, huge (mahogany?) rectangular island bar with chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. I noted 'club' and 'dining' rooms behind closed doors - presumably these can be hired out for a small fortune. Gents toilets upstairs overlook Fleet Street, which makes for an unusual 60 seconds at the porcelain.

There’s a large number of handpumps on the go but they basically only serve the core Fullers range plus a seasonal – five in total. My Pride was in decent nick though came in at a hefty £1.85 for a half. Incongruous piped music in the form of Take That’s Greatest Hits and a number of annoying punters with their heads lodged firmly up their rear ends (sample overheard conversation “oh yah, I have so got a Twitter strategy since Piersy – that’s PIERS MORGAN – pulled me up on my spelling”). Seating is fairly minimal and I settled on a rather uncomfortable high stool next to the wall shelving before discovering a small upstairs area with thankfully comfier chairs, encountering someone was being interviewed and fawned over by a journalist but I had no idea who he was – so if you like celeb-spotting maybe this is the place to be.

Overall, this is an impressive place to sink a pint and it’s definitely worth a look. I wouldn’t fancy setting in for a session but I somehow doubt they’d miss me.

On 9th June 2011 - rating: 7
[User has posted 4042 recommendations about 4030 pubs]

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Malden man left this review about The Old Bank Of England

This is another Fuller's bank conversion which follows the usual formula of a central island bar, gallery over at one end and seperate rooms in the former staff offices. The site is the former Law Courts branch of The Bank of England and the lease was obtained by Fuller's in 1994. Take a look at the fantastic elaborate ceiling with the three large chandeliers suspended beneath. Fullers have succeeded here in preserving and enhancing the building, there are decorative marble clad columns, cornices and arches, painted murals, one having an inset clock. The bar has a dark wood canopy over with a raised (although stopped) clock on top. The double storey height windows facing Fleet St have large elegant drapes. A flaming torch advertises the pub's presence outside.
The walls have a library of framed pictures, photographs, drawings, maps and so on.
In my opinion this is one of the better conversions of the type and certainly up there with the non too distant Counting House.
The full range of the general Fuller's range was on (no Porter sadly), I opted for the ESB which was properly served in its branded stemmed glass but at a rather sobering £3.75.
The pub menus have a write up which informs that the building sits between what was Sweeney Todd's barbers shop (the demon barber of Fleet St) and the shop of Mrs Lovett the pie maker who disposed of the bodies of his victims by serving them in her pies. Allegedly the tunnels and vaults beneath the pub were used to butcher and transport the unfortunate souls. The fact that this is now a Fuller's Ale and Pie house is not without an amusing modern irony then!
Certainly recommended if only for the architecture rather than the price of the beer. One minor moan, I suppose it may be a listed building but they really could do with an obscure glass window in the gents' which directly overlooks busy Fleet St.

On 19th January 2011 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1687 recommendations about 1663 pubs]

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