Mansion House, London

Mansion House, London

Mansion House on Mansion House Street near Bank junction.

Mansion House is the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London. It is used for some of the City of London's official functions, including an annual dinner, hosted by the Lord Mayor, at which the Chancellor of the Exchequer customarily gives a speech – his "Mansion House Speech" – about the state of the British economy. The Guildhall is another venue used for important City functions. It is a Grade I Listed Building.[1]

Contents

  • History 1
  • Architecture 2
  • Art collection 3
  • Public access 4
  • Literature 5
  • Mansion House Street 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

History

An 1837 view showing one of the two high attics. They were nicknamed the "Mayor's Nest" and "Noah's Ark".
An early 19th century banquet in the Egyptian Hall at the Mansion House
A public session at the Mansion House, London (c. 1840)

Mansion House was built between 1739 and 1752, in the then fashionable [4]

Architecture

Mansion House has three main storeys over a rusticated basement. The entrance facade has a [3] It has twenty niches for sculpture.[5] There was originally an open courtyard, later occupied by a saloon.[5]

The residence used to have its own court of law, since the Lord Mayor is the chief magistrate of the City while in office. There were eleven holding cells (ten for men and one, nicknamed "the birdcage", for women). A famous prisoner here was the early 20th century suffragette women's rights campaigner Emmeline Pankhurst.

Art collection

Mansion House is home to The Harold Samuel Collection of Dutch and Flemish Seventeenth Century Paintings, described as "the finest collection of such works to be formed in Britain this century" (Sutton 1992). It consists of 84 paintings and includes some outstanding works by artists including Hendrick Avercamp, Gerard Ter Borch, Pieter Claesz, Aelbert Cuyp, Frans Hals, Pieter de Hooch, Jacob van Ruisdael, Jan Steen, David Teniers the Younger and Willem van de Velde.

Public access

Mansion House is not generally open to the public. However, tours can be arranged through the diary office, and there are public tours most Tuesdays.

Literature

In A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Mark Twain recounted a story about the construction of the building:

It reminded me of something I had read in my youth about the ingenious way in which the aldermen of London raised the money that built the Mansion House. A person who had not taken the Sacrament according to the Anglican rite could not stand as a candidate for sheriff of London. Thus Dissenters were ineligible; they could not run if asked, they could not serve if elected. The aldermen, who without any question were Yankees in disguise, hit upon this neat device: they passed a by-law imposing a fine of £400 upon any one who should refuse to be a candidate for sheriff, and a fine of £600 upon any person who, after being elected sheriff, refused to serve. Then they went to work and elected a lot of Dissenters, one after another, and kept it up until they had collected £15,000 in fines; and there stands the stately Mansion House to this day, to keep the blushing citizen in mind of a long past and lamented day when a band of Yankees slipped into London and played games of the sort that has given their race a unique and shady reputation among all truly good and holy peoples that be in the earth.

(See Harrison v. Evans (1767), 3 Bro. Parl. Cas. 465.)

Mansion House Street

Mansion House Street is the short street at the front of Mansion House, which connects Poultry, Queen Victoria Street and Bank junction above Bank Underground station.

Notes

  1. ^  
  2. ^ a b c Britton, John; Pugin, A. (1828). "An Account of the Mansion House". Illustrations of the Public Buildings of London: With Historical and Descriptive Accounts of each Edifice 2. London. pp. 120–6. 
  3. ^ a b c Summerson, John (1962). Georgian London. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 61–2. 
  4. ^ Weinreb, Christopher, and Hibbert, Ben, eds. (1992). The London Encyclopaedia. Macmillan. p. 509. 
  5. ^ a b c Timbs, John (1867) [First edition published 1855]. Curiosities of London (New ed.). London: J.S. Virtue. pp. 540–1. 

References

  • Sutton, P. Dutch and Flemish Seventeenth Century Paintings: The Harold Samuel Collection, 1992, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-41795-3 and ISBN 978-0-521-42840-8.

External links

  • Official Mansion House pages on the City of London website
  • Mansion House tours