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History of the Mansion House

George Dance the Elder Until the mid-18th century, Lord Mayors used their own houses or livery (Guild) halls for their work as head of the City's governmental, judicial and civic functions. The idea of creating a permanent residence arose after the Great Fire of 1666 to provide a house for Lord Mayors who did not have their own livery hall. But it was almost three quarters of a century later that the architect and Clerk of the City's Work, George Dance the Elder, was chosen to design and build The Mansion House. The first stone was laid in 1739 but it ws not until 1752 that Lord Mayor Sir Crispin Gascoigne was able to take up residence there. Work was completed in 1758.

The Mansion House is literally at the Heart of the City, above Bank tube station and on the site of a livestock market over the River Walbrook sharing a five-way junction with Royal Exchange, the Bank of England and Hawksmoor's St Mary Woolnoth. With the exception of Queen Victoria Street, all the streets nearby (Cheapside, Cornhill, Poultry) are Roman.


Architectural Floor Plan of The Mansion House Imposingly Palladian in style, it is faced by a grand temple portico at the front approached by flights of steps each side. The entertaining rooms were built on the first and second floors. The first floor had a roofless courtyard (later covered to form the Salon, the entertainment space) and the great Egyptian Hall. The second  floor has a ballroom and private apartments of the Lord Mayor and family. The third and fourth floors contain meeting rooms and staff rooms. The cellars have storage space and once held prisoners' cells, reflecting the former use of the Mansion House as the Lord Mayor's Court.



Elavated drawing of The Mansion House Whilst Mansion House retains much of its original character, there have been changes. Some fifty years later, two large roof pavilions were found to be unsafe. Dance's son, George Dance the Younger, removed one in 1795. The other was removed in 1846, and at the same time, the main entrance to the house was moved round the side, after various road works narrowed the esplanade up the steps at the front. There were refurbishments in the 1860s, and 1930s, and in 1991-3. Today the Mansion House is home to some magnificent plate, a collection of sculptures and the 84 Dutch paintings of the Harold Samuel Art Collection. Find out more about the Mansion House Art Collection and the Mansion House Plate Collection.


Click here to find out more about tours of the Mansion House.

All images are from the City of London Libraries. Visit COLLAGE to search for more pictures of Mansion House.

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Last modified: 15 December 2008 | Author: Lucia Graves
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