Leaving a legacy for the nation
Having spent a lifetime lending to businesses, originally in the South West but now across the UK it isn’t surprising that I have an interest in the history of banking.
During the 18th century the woollen industry brought about one of the wealthiest periods for England. With Devon being a significant sheep rearing county and Exeter being close to the sea it explains why in the latter part of the 1700s there were five private banks in the centre of the city, most situated in magnificent properties overlooking the 12th century cathedral.
With just a few years starting in 1769, first the Exeter Bank was founded, followed by the Devonshire Bank and then the City Bank. Some of these august bodies were able to print their own bank notes.
It was the Baring family from London that opened the Devonshire bank with brothers John and Francis giving the bank its title of Baring Brothers. Yes, the very same bank that under the Chairmanship of Peter Baring saw the dramatic collapse known as the Nick Leeson Affair. Eventually, the oldest bank in the country was sold in 1995 to the Dutch ING Group for £1.
Ninety years before Barings was founded, Richard Hoare opened his C. Hoare & Co, private bank, in Cheapside, London. In 1690 the bank moved to Fleet Street, where it still trades today.
Obviously the bank prospered because Richard’s son Henry felt able in 1717 to purchase a country estate in the South West, where the river Stour rises, close to Mere. The magnificent gardens were created by Henry’s son, Henry and in 1946 Stourhead was passed the The National Trust for the whole nation to enjoy.
Stourhead is one of the Trust’s most visited and photographed properties in England. The photograph above was taken on 2nd November 2015 so put a note on your phone to visit Oct/Nov 2016.
When we see the magnificence created by past generations one can only hope that in 300 years from now our descendants will be able to enjoy something left behind by our current tranche of bankers.