£20 Elgar note withdrawal 'a national disgrace'

Make sure you check your wallet today because you may have to spend any twenties you find lurking there. The £20 note which features the musician Edward Elgar is being withdrawn from legal tender tomorrow at midnight.

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All Edward Elgar notes must be spent or exchanged in a bank by midnight on the 30th June because after that, shops have the right to refuse them and banks may use their discretion whether to exchange them for a newer note.

But don't worry if you miss the deadline: you can still take your Elgar notes to the Bank of England, which promises to honour the face value of any old note.

This particular design of £20 note was first introduced in the UK in 1999, and today roughly ten per cent of all £20 notes in circulation are the Edward Elgar variety. That is about 150 million notes, totalling a value of £3 billion.

Replacing the musician's face on the £20 note will be the economist Adam Smith. One music academic, Professor Jeremy Dibble, from Durham University, feels that to lose Elgar on our currency is "a national disgrace" since the arts are no longer represented on money.

He said: "Land of Hope and Glory is one of the most stirring tunes ever composed and its composer, Edward Elgar, is an iconic figure and a fitting symbol of artistic inspiration in England.

"Dropping Elgar tells us much about the way in which the arts is now viewed in England. Bank notes should applaud the greatest aspects of England and English culture.

"The removal of writing and music in the shape of Shakespeare and Elgar on Bank of England notes makes our currency much less colourful; science and economics are important but so too are the arts."

Current bank notes feature Elizabeth Fry, a prisoners' welfare campaigner, Charles Darwin, the discoverer of the theory of evolution, and Sir John Houblon, the first Governor of the Bank of England.

Do you agree that our money should feature faces from every aspect of British culture? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.