Records of Knight, Jenner & Company relating to its operation and amalgamation with Capital & Counties Bank including customers’ incidental papers, agreements, balance sheets, and premises records.
Knight, Jenner & Company records
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
This private bank was formed as Stevens & Co. in 1806 by James Stevens, a hop grower and wool stapler. Stevens used to sell hops at an annual fair in Weyhill. After a narrow escape from highwaymen, he decided to attend the sales accompanied by a servant armed with pistols and a blunderbuss. Stevens' friends subsequently entrusted their money to him as he was so well protected. He thought he could profit from their trust and opened his bank in Castle Street, Farnham.
A Run on the Bank
During the early part of the 19th century banking conditions were unsettled. Stevens learned that a run on his bank would take place. After considering with a friend how he could stop this happening, he decided to place behind the counter several sacks of corn, with sovereigns sprinkled on them visible to customers. As considerable withdrawals were being made, his friend came into the bank, drawing attention to the seemingly full sacks of gold. He said, 'Oh, this bank's all right, I shall leave my money with it'. As other customers followed his example, the rush to withdraw cash stopped and the crisis was averted.
After this, Stevens decided banking was too hazardous a business. He sold the firm to James Knight, a prosperous brewer. As a result, in 1828 the bank became Knight, Jenner & Co.
In 1868 new premises were built for the bank at 75 Castle Street. Designed by Norman Shaw, a well-known architect, the building was a mock Elizabethan four storey house and cost £18,000 to build. It was nicknamed ‘Knight’s Folly’ as general opinion was that the design was too pretentious, particularly given the size of the premises. The half-timbered construction was quite out of character in a street of Regency and Georgian buildings.
In 1886, when known as James Knight & Son, the business was acquired by Capital & Counties Bank (est. 1877).
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