As of the end of June, the old-style UK twenty pound notes with a picture of Sir Edward Elgar on the reverse are no longer accepted by merchants. Most banks will only exchange them for regular customers, so if you are in the US and have a lot of old notes you will have to post them to the Bank of England for exchange.
I just found a bunch of notes form the early 1990's. I guess I'll be making a quick trip to the Bank of England on my next visit.
Not sure if I should trust Postman Pat--on either side of the pond.
In a follow up, I contacted the Bank of England about procedures for sending notes to exchange from the U.S.
I got a very nice email saying that any amount I exchange over 35 pounds will be sent to me in the form of a check in pounds Sterling and not actual notes. They even mentioned that my bank might charge me to cash it.
They also said I could send separate requests making sure each one is under 35 pounds and they would send me notes, or just visit them the next time I'm in London.
I was at Kew Gardens today and my 20 pound notes which I had left over from a 2005 trip were refused. When this tip was posted before, I checked my notes but didn't realize Elgar's picture is on the back. So thanks, Philip, for specifying that Elgar's picture is on the reverse side.
The trip to Bank of England could be kind of fun near the Monument and a small museum is in the Bank
Philip, thanks for posting that! I just checked and I have some of the Elgar £20 notes. I have the same concern that Frank II mentioned about sending them to the Bank by mail. Will have to give this some further thought. Cheers!