The Bank of England, formally the Governor and Company of the Bank of England, is the central bank of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694, it is the second oldest central bank in operation today, after Sveriges Riksbank. The Bank of England is 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 organization, 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 it 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 a 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 satirical cartoon by James Gillray in 1797. 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.