Inside the newly built Walbrook entrance to Bank tube station can be found a freize of Roman inspired murals — known as the Hutton Panels.
In 1960, John Hutton created 24 panels to commemorate the discovery of the ruins of the Temple of Mithras on the site of the now demolished Bucklersbury House.
The panels were installed as ornamental lintels over the north and south entrances to the office block.
When the Bloomberg Building was being constructed, it was decided to gift the panels — which had be preserved — to London Underground to be installed in the tube station entrance.
They were carefully removed from the old building by Recclesia and the Museum of London Archaeology over a three week period, even as the rest of the building was being demolished. The Hutton Panels, each being some two by one metres in size but only 5mm thick underwent several months of specialist cleaning before being repackaged and put into secure storage. One of the issues that they faced was that the panels had also been covered over with a bomb blast film at some point, and that had to be removed in small pieces to avoid damaging the glass etching underneath.
The glass panels are in two series, once set features the god Mithras killing the primordial bull; the central icon in the cult of Mithras and the most obvious reference to the discovery. On either side of this bull-slaying scene, known at the tauroctony, were other Roman gods and goddesses.
The second series features scenes from Roman life in Londinium, with soldiers, merchants, women and children and even a vision of Roman London Bridge in the background.
The specially built frames allow them to be backlit so as to look as if they are being seen against daylight as they would originally have been seen. It also casts a lot of light into the lower concourse, which is very unlike most tube stations.
There are a couple of panels mounted on the wall that explain the meaning of the characters etched into the glass, although the display of the information panels seems a bit of an afterthought, being simply glued to the wall and looking very temporary.
The glass panels are however permanent, and worth a detour to admire them if you’re using bank tube station.