For the average person, the largest denomination UK bank note that we would see is the Â£50 note – and even that is moderatly rare with the Â£20 being the normal largest note in day-2-day usage.
However, little known about is that there is a larger denomination available – the “one million pound note”.
Before shops start panicking about they could be able to offer change if someone walked into a shop with one of these notes in their wallet, it should be noted that these notes are for inter-bank purposes only. The key point is that they do however actually exist.
They are mainly used by the Bank of England to “transfer” currency from the English Bank to its bank note issuer counterparts in Scotland and is hence never seen outside the banking system.
Alas, a letter to the Bank of England for permission to show you an image of one of these interesting notes was politely declined. Oh well.
Incidentally, the words “I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of five [ten/twenty/fifty] pounds” date from long ago when the UK’s bank notes represented deposits of gold. At that time, a member of the public could go into the Bank of England and swap a banknote for gold to the same value. For example, a Â£5 note could be exchanged for five gold coins, called sovereigns.
However, the value of the pound has not been linked to gold for many years, so the meaning of the promise to pay has changed. Exchange into gold is no longer possible and Bank of England notes can only be exchanged for other Bank of England notes of the same face value – which is a bit boring frankly.
The Bank of England has a museum, which I have been meaning to visit for several years – but it is only open Mon-Fri and never on Bank Holidays (appropriatly enough), so it is a bit of a pain to get to during the week.