“The Knights Templar”, formerly the Union Bank

From Historic England entry for 95, CHANCERY LANE WC2, 61, CAREY STREET WC2:

“Bank. 1865 by F.W. Porter, built as the Union Bank of London. Portland stone, slate roof. Stately, richly detailed High Renaissance design. 3 storeys, basement and dormered attic. 4 window wide frontage to Chancery Lane, splayed corner entrance bay and 12-window wide front to Carey Street with central and terminal advanced pavilions. Aediculed corner entrance. 3 storey loggia treatment to Chancery Lane with semicircular arched windows contained within successive Tuscan, Ionic and Corinthian orders in coupled columns. The Carey Street front has the same theme but with coupled pilasters. Arcaded 1st floor windows. Terminal pavilions as loggias. The central pavilion 2 storeyed with stone ball finials to cornice blocking course. Heavy main cornice and entablature with semicircular, pedimented dormers above. Fine heavy cast iron area railings. Original banking hall with rich Renaissance detailing, largely intact.”

From the website of the NatWest Group:

“This joint stock bank was established at 8 Moorgate Street, City of London, in 1839 as Union Bank of London with a paid-up capital of £211,500. In 1841 it acquired the business and premises of Metropolitan Bank (est. 1839), bankers of London. Branches were opened in

Argyle Place (1839),

Pall Mall (1840),

Charing Cross (1841),

Temple Bar (1855),

Chancery Lane (c.1868),

Holborn Circus (1870),

Bayswater (1882),

Fenchurch Street (1886),

Tottenham Court Road (1886),

Sloane Street (1888)

Southwark (1892).

The head office was moved to Princes Street, City of London, in 1844.

It acquired Dixon, Brooks & Dixon in 1859; Chasemore, Robinson & Sons in 1891 and London, Commercial & Cripplegate Bank in 1900. The company was severely undermined by a £250,000 fraud in 1860. The bank assumed limited liability in 1882 as Union Bank of London Ltd. In 1887 a new head office building was erected in Princes Street. By 1902 there were 24 branches in London and its suburbs.

In 1902 the bank amalgamated with Smith, Payne & Smiths and its country connections: Samuel Smith & Co of Nottingham; Smith, Ellison & Co of Lincoln; Samuel Smith, Brothers & Co of Hull; Samuel Smith & Co of Derby; and Samuel Smith & Co of Newark. The new bank was called Union of London & Smiths Bank Ltd. In 1903 its paid-up capital was £3.55m, its balance sheet totalled over £41m and it had 51 branches. In 1903 it acquired Wigan, Mercer, Tasker & Co of Maidstone; London & Yorkshire Bank; and Prescott’s Bank of London.

In 1918 the bank amalgamated with National Provincial Bank of England to form National Provincial & Union Bank of England.

Branches: In 1917 231 branches were operating.”

From waymarking.com:

“One of JD Wetherspoons most prestigious venues, the Knights Templar is a conversion, formerly the Union Bank built in 1865. Opened as a pub in 1999, this enormous building on the corner of Carey Street and Chancery Lane boasts many original features. The tall cast iron fluted columns, over 20 feet high, burst into corinthian-like capitals which support the decorated beams above. High marble arches surround the mahogany doors and the windows are picked out with gilded surrounds.

The pub’s name reflects the area, the 12th century Temple Church close by having been built by the Knights Templar. The church is featured in the ‘Da Vinci Code’, as a possible location of the Holy Grail. JD’s Knights Templar’s find their grail in the good selection of real ales and inexpensive wines.”

Images of “The Union Bank of London, Chancery Lane” appeared in the Building News of 1866 and in the Illustrated London News: 48 (17 March 1866): 265.

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