'Britain's most beautiful bank' opposite Royal Courts of Justice could be turned into a giant Wetherspoon pub

Tom Powell
The building was converted into a branch of Lloyds bank in 1895: Maggie Jones

A historic building on the Strand previously dubbed ‘Britain’s most beautiful bank’ could be turned into a Wetherspoon pub.

The pub giant has submitted an application to take over the large premises located directly opposite the Royal Courts of Justice.

While previously occupied by Lloyds Bank, the branch gained a reputation for its ornate interior, intricately carved pillars and elegant fountain.

Amateur photographers flocked to the central London bank, at No. 222 Strand, which became known as the most beautiful in the country.

The branch developed a reputation as

The branch was closed last year as part of Lloyds’ national overhaul of its services.

But it could now be brought back to life as the latest pub in the Wetherspoon portfolio – which includes more than 900 premises across the UK.

Wetherspoon has a history of reviving architectural gems as pubs (Maggie Jones)

Plans submitted to Westminster Council show the firm wants to convert the ground floor and basement into a new pub.

In the application, Wetherspoon highlighted its previous successes around the country in reviving abandoned architectural gems such as cinemas and opera houses.

Diagrams submitted show the chain plans to place dozens of tables and chairs on the ground floor and mezzanine, along with several cosy alcoves.

Westminster’s planners are now considering the conversion, with no date set yet for a decision.

The inside of the building is filled with ornate decorations, mirrors and a fountain (Maggie Jones)

In the 17th century, the site was occupied by the Palsgrave Head Tavern, a favourite drinking spot of poet and playwright Ben Johnson.

It was demolished in 1883 to make way for a restaurant for the Royal Courts of Justice, which had been completed a year earlier.

The premises was originally built as a restaurant for the Royal Courts of Justice (Maggie Jones)

The restaurant, designed by Guymour Cuthbert and William Wimble, closed after just three years and remained empty until 1895 – when it was converted into a Lloyds branch.

It is claimed that the original dining room was ventilated by a pair of bellows, powered by two women riding a tandem bicycle.