At no.37 Fleet Street is a monument to banking history. Messrs. C. Hoare and Co. is the oldest bank in Britain. While it continues to operate commercially in much the same fashion as it has for almost four hundred years, it incorporates an upstairs museum as well as unique features to enhance its customers' experience.
See the specially designed gutter for dripping umbrellas at the foot of the cashiers' register; or the room's cast-iron stove, decorated with a Grecian frieze and three-branch candelabra, by the same architect who helped design Marble Arch and Buckingham Palace's central staircase. Hoare and Co. still give away free umbrellas to customers.
Samuel Johnson's house is just a little way off Fleet Street, at 17 Gough Square. The original dictionary of the English language is still preserved in the top floor room, as well as a televised re-enactment of Johnson's life. A prominent figure in society, despite the childhood incidence of scrofulous which disfigured his face, he was also one of the leaders of the Abolitionist movement. When he died he left a part of his property to his former Negro slave. The wide selection of postcards with original dictionary definitions on sale in the gift shop is a draw, and on June 23 this year they held a 'Georgian Open Day.' This incorporated dressing up, mystery objects, eighteenth-century insults and other Georgian activities.
Finally, stop off at Prince Henry's Rooms at no.17 Fleet Street, constructed around the same time, in 1610. The first floor room contains a number of architecturally significant attractions. The richly decorated ribs on the ceiling, with motifs cast from wooden molds, give an insight into the interiors of contemporary London houses – though the Prince of Wales's crest of feathers in the ceiling centre, surrounded by a star, was probably unique. Prince Henry himself was historically significant as the eldest son of James I, no doubt more popular than his brother Charles I who succeeded the throne. Stained glass windows commemorate the building's rescue from demolition by London County Council in 1906.