So, the end of the seventeenth century saw the nations of Europe pitted against one another in the Nine Years' War. It was an expensive war for England, and after suffering a significant naval defeat at the Battle of Beachy Head, King William III couldn't afford to rebuild their navy. Then came a Scottish merchant named William Paterson who, with a handful of his colleagues, raised £1.2 million pounds from rich and poor alike in 11 days to finance the government - this was the Bank of England, and those who donated were its first shareholders. The Bank proved to be the most financially sound investment one could make - if an early shareholder continually reinvested their dividends from an initial £100 investment, their shares would be worth over £40 million by the time the bank became nationalized in 1945. Of course, £100 in 1694 was the equivalent of roughly $15 thousand today, so good luck finding that behind the sofa.
The Bank of England was originally based in Mercer's Chapel, but was given its own home on Threadneedle Street in the 1730s. The bank's nickname, "The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street," comes from a notable patron named Sarah Whitehead. The sister of a former employee who was found guilty of forgery and executed in 1811, Sarah was so traumatized by the death of her brother that she visited the bank every day for the next 25 years, asking to see her brother.