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PostSubject: The Bank of England - London UK   Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:19 pm

Threadneedle Street. EC2.

The Bank Nun.

On November 2nd 1811, Philip Whitehead, ‘a man of genteel appearance’ who had been employed in the Cashier’s Office at the Bank of England, was brought to the dock of the Old Bailey, charged with forgery. Found guilty, he was sentenced to death and was duly hanged in early 1812.

News of his crime and execution was, however, kept from his devoted sister, Sarah Whitehead, who was removed by Philip’s friends to a house in Wine Office Court, off Fleet Street. But one day, Sarah turned up at the Bank of England to enquire of her brother’s whereabouts, and an unthinking clerk promptly blurted out the story of Philip’s crime and ignominious death.

The shock of the discovery turned the poor woman’s mind and thereafter she took to turning up at the Bank everyday asking after her brother in the belief that he still worked there. She became known as the “Bank Nun” on account of her peculiar attire that consisted of a long black dress and a black crepe veil worn over her face and head. The city merchants took pity on her and never let her pass “without extending their assistance,” whilst the Directors and clerks of the Bank of England saw to it that she was frequently provided with “sums of money in compliment of her misfortune.”

But she became convinced that the Bank governors were keeping an immense fortune from her and this led to her frequently hurling insults at them during business hours. On one occasion Baron Rothschild was going about his business at the Stock Exchange when she suddenly appeared and called him a “villain and a robber” telling him that he had defrauded her of her fortune and demanding the £2,000 he owed her. He responded by taking half a crown from his waistcoat pocket, handing it to her and telling her as he did so “There, then, take that and don’t bother me now; I’ll give you the other half tomorrow.” Accepting the money, she thanked him and went away.

By 1818 the Bank governors had grown tired of her daily disturbances and so gave her a sum of money on condition she agreed never to return to the bank again. In life she kept that contract, but in death her wraith has broken it many times. More than one late night wanderer, wending their weary way home along Threadneedle Street has been surprised by her ghostly figure appearing before them and, with downcast eyes enquiring sadly, though politely, “have you seen my brother?”

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