Old Lady dons her birthday suit: Bank of England puts first Governor on pounds 50 notes to mark 300th anniversary

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SIR JOHN HOUBLON will replace Sir Christopher Wren on pounds 50 notes this year. Sir John who?

The move is part of the Bank of England's 300th anniversary celebrations and it is honouring Sir John, a friend of Samuel Pepys, as its first Governor. A Bank spokesman described the selection of Sir John - who joins Michael Faraday, Charles Dickens and George Stephenson on UK banknotes - as 'a minor piece of justifiable self-indulgence'.

In 1993 there were moves to make the Bank more independent, especially concerning interest rate policy. But there were also suggestions it should be split up. Against this background it is determined to make a mark with its celebrations. These include the issue of commemorative pounds 2 coins, one type for collectors and the other for general circulation.

The official anniversary date of 27 July 1994, 300 years after the Bank's first charter, will be marked by a service of thanksgiving in St Paul's Cathedral.

The Bank Museum will hold special exhibitions to herald the issue of the pounds 50 note and the pounds 2 coin. There will also be an exhibition depicting its development from a national to a central bank.

An illustrated history of the Bank of England's banknotes - Promises to Pay, by Derrick Byatt - will be published by Spinks in May 1994.

On 9 June 1994, the Bank will hold a symposium at the Barbican in London on the evolution and modern role of central banks around the world.

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