Mansion House, London


Mansion House, London

Coordinates: 51°30′47.7″N 0°5′21.7″W / 51.51325°N 0.089361°W / 51.51325; -0.089361

Mansion House
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 is the official residence of the Lord Mayor of the City of London in London, England. 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.

Mansion House was built between 1739 and 1752, in the then fashionable Palladian style by the City of London surveyor and architect George Dance the Elder; its site had formerly been occupied by St Mary Woolchurch Haw, destroyed in the Great Fire of London. The construction was prompted by a wish to put an end to the inconvenient practice of lodging the Lord Mayor in one of the City Halls. Dance won a design competition over solicited designs from James Gibbs and Giacomo Leoni, and uninvited submissions by Batty Langley and Isaac Ware.

Mansion House has three main storeys over a rusticated basement. The entrance facade features a portico with six Corinthian columns. The building originally had two prominent and unusual attic structures, but these were removed in 1794 and 1843. The building is on a confined site, and in the opinion of Sir John Summerson it gives "an impression of uneasily constricted bulk… On the whole, the building is a striking reminder that good taste was not a universal attribute in the eighteenth century." The main reception room was a colummned hall called the "Egyptian Hall", which was so named because the arrangement of the columns chosen by Dance was deemed to be "Egyptian" by Palladio, rather than because it employed Egyptian motifs. British architecture's mild flirtation with Egyptian motifs lay several decades in the future.

The residence is unique in having its own court of law, since the Lord Mayor is the chief magistrate of the City while in office. There are 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.

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.

Mansion House is not open to the public except for guided group tours and from 2 December 2008, these will be held at 2pm every Tuesday. Visitors just turn up and wait in Walbrook near the porch entrance to Mansion House. Tours are first come/first served and limited to 40 per group.

Contents

Literature

In A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Mark Twain made up 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.

Mansion House Street

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

References

  • Summerson, John. Georgian London, page 42. ISBN 0-7126-2095-8.
  • Sutton, P. "Dutch and Flemish Seventeenth Century Paintings: The Harold Samuel Collection, 1992, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-512-41795-3 and ISBN 0-42840-8.

External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mansion House (London) — Mansion House London Ein Festessen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mansion House (London Underground) — Station Mansion House Bahnsteig …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mansion House tube station — Mansion House Entrance on Cannon Street …   Wikipedia

  • Mansion House — may refer to: the official residences of the Mayor or Lord Mayor of various towns and cities in Great Britain and Ireland: Mansion House, Dublin Mansion House, London See also Mansion House tube station on the London Underground Mansion House,… …   Wikipedia

  • Mansion House — steht für den offiziellen Amtssitz des jeweiligen Bürgermeisters in einigen britischen und irischen Städten. Bekannt sind die folgenden Mansion Houses: Mansion House (Dublin) Mansion House (London) siehe auch Mansion House (London Underground)… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mansion House —    At the junction of the Poultry and Cornhill on the south side, opposite Mansion House Street (P.O. Directory). In Walbrook Ward.    Erected 1739 52 as a residence for the Lord Mayor during his year of office. Archt., G. Dance, City Surveyor.… …   Dictionary of London

  • Mansion House Place —    On the east side of the Mansion House, in Walbrook Ward (L.C.C. Streets, 1912).    First mention: O.S. 1848 51.    Former name : George Street (Horwood, 1799 Elmes, 1831).    Prior to the erection of the Mansion House the site was occupied by… …   Dictionary of London

  • Mansion House Street —    West from the corner of King William Street to the Poultry opposite the Mansion House (P.O. Directory). In Broad Street and Walbrook Wards.    First mention: Horwood, 1799.    Widened and lengthened under Met. Improvements Act, 1863. Completed …   Dictionary of London

  • Mansion house — Mansion Man sion, n. [OF. mansion, F. maison, fr. L. mansio a staying, remaining, a dwelling, habitation, fr. manere, mansum, to stay, dwell; akin to Gr. ?. Cf. {Manse}, {Manor}, {Menagerie}, {Menial}, {Permanent}.] 1. A dwelling place, whether a …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Mansion House — a large house in London, the official home of the Lord Mayor of London, where official dinners are held …   Dictionary of contemporary English


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