It’s 1836, and beneath London’s busy streets a sewer worker is seeing to a checklist of routine repairs when an old drain catches his attention – and he decides to inspect it. Then, after following the course of the underground tunnel, the worker reaches something that he could never have expected. Somehow – incredibly – he has just gained access to the place where a considerable proportion of the city’s riches are stored.
The Bank of England was established in the wake of a major defeat of the nation’s navy. In the Battle of Beachy Head – a clash involving dozens of warships that took place on July 10, 1690, during the Nine Years’ War – France overwhelmingly defeated both the Dutch and their English allies. In fact, the French navy dispatched ten of its enemies’ ships without losing a single one of its own.
Afterward, England refocused its efforts on rebuilding its navy into a force stronger than the one that had lost the Battle of Beachy Head. There was one major problem, though: the country had no public funds left. And the government – helmed by William III – could not borrow the £1.2 million ($1.5 million) that it needed.