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20 Pounds Sterling 1984, Kingdom of Great Britain

in Banknotes Book Number: BE208C
Years of issue: 11.1984
Signatures: Chief Cashier: Mr. David Henry FitzRoy Somerset (1980 - 1988)
Serie: England
Specimen of: 09.07.1970
Material: Cotton fiber
Size (mm): 160 х 90
Printer: Bank of England print works, Loughton (Debden), Essex, UK

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20 Pounds Sterling 1984




William Shakespeare.


20 Pounds Sterling 1984

HM The Queen Elizabeth II.

Like the previous portraits of The Queen, which had been drawn for the banknotes issued by the Bank of England, this likeness of Her Majesty is not based on an existing portrait. The master drawing of The Queen was executed by Harry Eccleston in 1956, the designer of the Bank's 'D' series. Three versions of the portrait were created. As well as the two version of the portrait described below, an earlier portrait of Her Majesty was prepared by Eccleston for use on the 50-pence and 10-shilling notes, which were never issued. The unused portrait was similar to Portrait 14b, except that in the unused portrait The Queen wore a cap, which is part of the full regalia of the Order of the Garter, rather than the Diadem.

This version of the portrait was used on the 10-, 20- and 50-pound notes of the ‘D’ series. The Queen is depicted in state robes, wearing the George IV State Diadem, Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee necklace and Queen Alexandra’s Cluster Earrings.


The Queen is wearing the George IV State Diadem. Made by Rundell, Bridge & Rundell (and likely designed by their designer, Philip Liebart) in 1820, the diadem features a set of 4 crosses pattée alternating with 4 bouquets of roses, thistles, and shamrocks. The motifs are set on a band of diamond scrollwork between two bands of pearls. Queen Alexandra had the diadem made smaller in 1902, reducing the top band of pearls from 86 to 81, and the bottom band from 94 to 88. The front cross is set with a 4 carat yellow diamond, and the piece features 1,333 diamonds in all. (Sartorial Splendor)

Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee necklace

To mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887, a committee of ladies was formed to raise money for a commemorative statue of Victoria’s late husband Prince Albert. The committee’s fundraising was quite successful, and they ended up raising far more than was required for the statue. An agreement was formed with the Queen that the excess should go to the St. Katherine’s Fund for Nurses. At the same time, some members of the committee decided that a portion of the funds should be used to purchase a necklace for the Queen - and this was also approved by Her Majesty.

The trouble was, the committee did not agree on the necklace. Some felt it would be wrong to spend the funds which had been previously devoted to charity on something else. Much discussion and debate ensued, as is described in depth in Hugh Roberts’ book The Queen’s Diamonds. (My favorite tidbit: Queen Victoria, angry that she wouldn’t get her promised necklace, shot down the prospect of a diamond badge commemorating the nursing fund by declaring she would “at once exchange it for another jewel”.

In the end, a compromise was reached and this necklace, made for £5000 (far less than the necklace originally proposed) from gold, diamonds, and pearls by Carrington & Co. was presented to Queen Victoria in 1888. It features a central quatrefoil diamond motif with a large pearl in the middle, topped by a crown and underlined with a drop pearl. The next four links in either direction are graduated trefoil motifs; the central piece and the six largest trefoils can also be worn as brooches.

Queen Alexandra’s Cluster Earrings

She is also wearing Queen Alexandra’s Cluster Earrings. The wedding gift from the future King Edward VII to his bride, Alexandra of Denmark. Also known as Queen Alexandra's Cluster Earrings, these two button earrings have large pearls surrounded by diamonds - 10 larger stones each plus smaller filler stones to create a full diamond ring. Like the brooch, these passed to the Queen via Queen Mary. They're now worn primarily at evening functions.

In the center is St. George who kills the dragon.

In a legend, Saint George - a soldier venerated in Chrstianity - defeats a dragon. The story goes that the dragon originally extorted tribute from villagers. When they ran out of livestock and trinkets for the dragon, they started giving up a human tribute once a year. This was acceptable to the villagers until a princess was chosen as the next offering. The saint thereupon rescues the princess chosen as the next offering. The narrative was first set in Cappadocia in the earliest sources of the XI and XII centuries, but transferred to Libya in the XIII-century Golden Legend.

The narrative has pre-Christian origins (Jason and Medea, Perseus and Andromeda, Typhon, etc.), and is recorded in various saints' lives prior to its attribution to St. George specifically. It was particularly attributed to Saint Theodore Tiro in the 9th and 10th centuries, and was first transferred to Saint George in the 11th century. The oldest known record of Saint George slaying a dragon is found in a Georgian text of the XI century.

The legend and iconography spread rapidly through the Byzantine cultural sphere in the XII century. It reached Western Christian tradition still in the 12th century, via the crusades. The knights of the First Crusade believed that St. George, along with his fellow soldier-saints Demetrius, Maurice, Theodore and Mercurius had fought alongside them at Antioch and Jerusalem. The legend was popularised in Western tradition in the 13th century based on its Latin versions in the Speculum Historiale and the Golden Legend. At first limited to the courtly setting of Chivalric romance, the legend was popularised in the 13th century and became a favourite literary and pictorial subject in the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance, and it has become an integral part of the Christian traditions relating to Saint George in both Eastern and Western tradition.

Saint George was a former Roman officer of Turkish and Arab parentage who it is believed never visited Europe let alone Britain, so how did he become the Patron Saint of England?

In June 1098 on the eve of the Battle of Antioch (Antakya in modern day Turkey) Saint George came to the soldiers of the crusading Norman army in a vision. The following day the Norman army was victorious in battle and the Norman soldiers came to believe that Saint George was the protector of the English.

Saint George also appeared in a vision before King Richard I (AKA Richard the Lionheart) on the eve of his major battle with the Saracens in 1190.

Saint George came to King Richard apparently wearing a breastplate with a red cross upon it. From that day King Richard adopted this red cross as the symbol of England and requested that all English soldiers wear the red cross upon their breastplates when going into battle, although it was not until 1277 that the red cross was used on the English flag.

In 1222 the Ecclesiastical Council of Oxford officially named the day of Georgius’ death (The 23rd of April) as Saint Georges Day.

Saint George replaced both St Edmund the Martyr and Edward the Confessor as the Patron Saint of England in 1348. Also in this year the English King Edward III venerated Saint George as the protector of the royal family and named both the chapel at Windsor Castle and the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the nation’s highest order of chivalry, in his honour.

From 1415 Saint George’s Day was celebrated by way of feasts and pageantry, although this was short lived once King Henry VIII founded the Church of England in 1534, which culminated in all Catholic saints dropping from favour.

In 1940 the English king, George VI, inaugurated the George Cross Medal, the nation’s highest civil decoration, awarded to civilians during the second World War for acts of courage, heroism and valour. (british monarchy family history)

Royal monogram lower right. Logo of the Bank of England is in lower left corner.

The Inscriptions: Bank of England. I Promise to Pay the Bearer on Demand the Sum of Twenty Pounds. London, for the Governor and Company of the Bank of England.


20 Pounds Sterling 1984

William Shakespeare

Westminster Abbey memorial - marble statue of William Shakespeare.

The life-size white marble statue, shown in the dress of his period and wearing a cloak, was erected by the 3rd Earl of Burlington (Richard Boyle), Dr Richard Mead, Alexander Pope and Tom Martin. Charles Fleetwood of the Drury Lane Theatre and John Rich of Covent Garden Theatre gave a benefit to help raise funds for the public subscription. The monument was designed by William Kent and executed by Peter Scheemakers, and both signed it, with the date 1740. The Dean and Chapter of Westminster charged no fee for its erection.

The Latin inscription above the head of the statue, in gold on a panel of dark marble, can be translated:

William Shakespeare [erected] 124 years after [his] death by public esteem.

The carved heads of Queen Elizabeth I, Henry V and Richard III appear on the base of a pedestal. The figure of the poet, about 5 feet 6 inches in height, stands with his right leg crossed in front of his left, leaning his elbow on a pile of three books (they have no titles). A chaplet (wreath of bays, signifying immortality) with a dagger (symbol of tragedy) and a dramatic mask are also shown above the head of Richard III. The group is in front of a pedimented architectural frame. William's left hand index finger points to a scroll hanging from the pedestal on which is painted a variant of Prospero's lines from The Tempest:

The Cloud capt Tow'rs,

The Gorgeous Palaces,

The Solemn Temples,

The Great Globe itself,

Yea all which it Inherit,

Shall Dissolve;

And like the baseless Fabrick of a Vision

Leave not a wreck behind.

Some of the black paint has rubbed off this inscription so some letters are now incomplete. The last but one line of the inscription appears in The Tempest as "And, like this insubstantial pageant faded" and the substituted line (which should be "And, like the baseless fabric of this vision") should head the quotation. It is not clear why this variation was used.

The inscription on the base of the memorial was added in 1977 (to make it clear to visitors who might not be able to read the Latin):



There is no other wording on the memorial. Originally there were railings in front of the monument but these were removed, probably in 1821. On the marble ledge between the feet of the statue the letters "T.T.1787" are incised. This is probably graffiti by a Westminster schoolboy, as there are many other monuments in the Abbey that were defaced by initials by boys at this period. The monument was last fully cleaned in 1997.

Several actors and actresses particularly known for their Shakespearian roles are buried or commemorated in the Abbey - David Garrick, Sarah Siddons, Sir Henry Irving, Philip Kemble, John Henderson, Hannah Pritchard, Peggy Ashcroft and Laurence Olivier. (

William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "the Bard"). His extant works, including collaborations, consist of some 39 plays, 154 sonnets, three long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. He remains arguably the most influential writer in the English language, and his works continue to be studied and reinterpreted.

Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children: Susanna and twins Hamnet and Judith. Sometime between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part-owner of a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. At age 49 (around 1613), he appears to have retired to Stratford, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare's private life survive; this has stimulated considerable speculation about such matters as his physical appearance, his sexuality, his religious beliefs and whether the works attributed to him were written by others.

Shakespeare produced most of his known works between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were primarily comedies and histories and are regarded as some of the best works produced in these genres. He then wrote mainly tragedies until 1608, among them Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth, all considered to be among the finest works in the English language. In the last phase of his life, he wrote tragicomedies (also known as romances) and collaborated with other playwrights.

Many of Shakespeare's plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy in his lifetime. However, in 1623, two fellow actors and friends of Shakespeare's, John Heminges and Henry Condell, published a more definitive text known as the First Folio, a posthumous collected edition of Shakespeare's dramatic works that included all but two of his plays. Its Preface was a prescient poem by Ben Jonson that hailed Shakespeare with the now famous epithet: "not of an age, but for all time".

William ShakespeareWilliam Shakespeare

Centered, on background is a Balcony scene from "Romeo and Juliet" by Shakespeare.

The Balcony Scene.

Act 2 Scene 2 – Key Scene.

At the start of this scene, Romeo hides beneath Juliet’s balcony and overhears her talking about him. He eventually comes out and they talk to each other. They declare their love for each other and arrange to meet the next day when Romeo has promised to marry Juliet. The Nurse calls to Juliet from inside so the scene ends with an urgency as the lovers try to say goodbye. (


Designer: Roger Withington.

The banknote withdrawn from circulation on March 19, 1993.

For the materials provided, many thanks to Malcolm Shemmonds from the Bank of England Public Relations Department.

On banknote have signed Mister David Henry FitzRoy Somerset.

David Henry FitzRoy Somerset (19 June 1930 – 25 October 2014) was Chief Cashier of the Bank of England for 1980 to 1988. The signature of the Chief Cashier appears on British banknotes. Somerset was replaced as Chief Cashier by Malcolm Gill.

Somerset was educated at Mount House School (now known as Mount Kelly) in Tavistock, Devon.

He was an emeritus fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge from 1997 to 2014, and fellow 1988-1997.