Skip to main content Skip to navigation

The design of money reflects how we see the society and culture that we live in, says Dr Clare Rowan

Dr Claire Rowan, History of currency and numismatics expert in the UNiversity of Warwick Classics and Ancient History department comments on the introduction of the new polymer five pound notes,

"With the appearance of Winston Churchill on our notes instead of Elizabeth Fry, we will only have one remaining female on British bank notes. If money reflects the society that we live in, what does it mean if the only female left on our notes is the queen?

"Thanks to public partition, Jane Austen is set to be on our £10 notes next year.

"The Bank of England governor identified that "our banknotes are repositories of the United Kingdom’s collective memory". The design of money reflects how we (or those governing us) see the society and culture that we live in, and have traditionally been seen as important in fostering a sense of nationhood and community. Further immortalising Winston Churchill in this way, on a note used quite frequently, means that he will literally circulate in society and permeate our subconscious, part of our daily experience and identity.

· "Britain’s first polymer note, other countries such as Australia have had these for some time. This is an example of Britain keeping up with current trends (making money that lasts longer and is less susceptible to forgery). Polymer notes create further possibilities like the implementation of tactile markings to help visually impaired people, as has recently been done in Australia."


Alex Buxton

Media Relations Manager
Tel: 02476 150423
Mob: 07876 218166