Victorian London - Buildings, Monuments and Museums- Mansion House

source: The Illustrated London News, 1843

Mansion House ... The state apartments of this noble residence of the Lord Mayor of the City of London may be seen on any day not devoted to public business, upon application to the officer in attendance.

The Mansion House, situated at the eastern extremity of the Poultry, is the official residence of the Lord Mayor. The front possesses a handsome portico with six fluted Corinthian columns, and has an imposing appearance; many of the apartments are noble; the Egyptian Hall, fitted up in a sumptuous style, deserves particular attention, and is well calculated to convey an idea of the dignity attached to the office of chief magistrate of the city, who, during his mayoralty, resides here. In the Justice Room, situated to the left of the principal entrance, his lordship sits daily to hear complaints.

source: Mogg's New Picture of London and Visitor's Guide to it Sights, 1844

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Mansion House. This official palace of the City sovereign is only about 120 years old, and was built by Dance on the site of the old stocks market. Its principal feature is a Corinthian portico with six fluted columns, but the broad staircase which should lead up to them is missing- and the portico approached by two little side flights, has a slightly inconsequent air perched up some dozen feet or so over the heads of passers-by. The building itself has something of the general air of a Roman palazzo, and had originally a central courtyard; this, however, has now been roofed in, and so converted into what is known as the Egyptian Hall; not on account of anything particularly Egyptian about it, but as a delicate compliment to Vitruvius. It contains some statues by British artists - Foley, Bailey, Marshall, and others - and affords a fine dining-hall for the great City banquets. It is also frequently used for large charitable and other meetings in furtherance of objects taken under the special patronage of the Lord Mayor for the time being. NEAREST Railway Stations, Mansion House (Dist.) and Cannon-Street (SE.); Omnibus Routes, Cheapside, Queen Victoria-street, King William-st, Cornhill, Thread. needle-street, and Moorgate-street; Cab Rank, King William-street.

source: Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879

The MANSION HOUSE, as you see, has six large columns in front, and its pediment - the  triangular piece which surmounts the columns-is ornamented with a group of figures. It contains a large number of rooms, some of which are used as domestic apartments, whilst others are grand state rooms, in which the Lord Mayor's many friends and visitors are received and hospitably entertained. The chief room, called the ' Egyptian Hall,' is chiefly devoted to the entertainment of strangers and friends, and will seat 400 guests. It is a large and lofty hall, and has on each side a range of grand pillars with gilded capitals; and, with its panelled roof and brilliant chandeliers, it furnishes a fitting frame for the statesmen and orators and civic grandees who sit down to banquets, which include, we trust, not only the best of cheer, but
    ' The feast of reason and the flow of soul,'
while his lordship presides over the gathering from his throne at the head of the table. It is also sometimes used for public meetings with charitable objects; and one of the Lord Mayor's numerous duties during his busy year of office is to promote the relief of all who are suffering from sudden calamities, and to open special funds for that purpose. Now he is the almoner for the famine-stricken people of Ireland or of the East Indies; then come sad tidings of a great colliery explosion, and money has to be gathered to feed the poor widows and orphans of the men who are killed. Then follow floods in Hungary, earthquakes in South Italy, hurricanes in Jamaica; and all these calls find his lordship ready to give time and money and influence to help the unfortunate, whether their skin be black, brown, or white, and without asking them whether they love us Englishmen or not.
The Mansion House is comparatively a modern institution. The building was completed in 1753. Previously to that time the citizens, while requiring their Mayor to keep up a princely court, and to have a sword-bearer, sergeant- at-arms, sergeant carver, sergeants of the chamber, esquires, bailiffs, and ' young men,' had expected him to find his own lodgings ; and so his lordship had to cram all his grandeur into his own private house, or to borrow the hall of the Company to which he might belong. But at length this omission was repaired, and now the Lord Mayor resides, during his year of office, at this palace in the heart of the city he governs; is surrounded at every turn by its handsome fittings ; and has to bring into play, on special occasions, its splendid service of plate, valued at more than £20,000. Of course, with his large retinue, and with the many banquets which lie is expected to give, his expenses are very heavy; but towards these he is allowed £10,000, and generally spends beyond this two or three thousand pounds out of his own pocket.

source: Uncle Jonathan, Walks in and Around London, 1895 (3 ed.)

MANSION HOUSE ... CITY. The residence of the Lord Mayor during his year of office. The Egyptian Hall, where sumptuous banquets are occasionally given, and the other State apartments, may be viewed on application.

source: Reynolds' Shilling Coloured Map of London, 1895


It is necessary to get up very early in the morning to see the Mansion House so deserted as it appears in this view. At the corner of the Poultry and Princes Street a coffee-stand for early customers may be observed. There is no time like sunrise, or soon afterwards, for seeing the beauties of London ; for then the attention is not constantly distracted by the noise of traffic and by jostling crowds, and the atmosphere is often surprisingly clear. The Mansion House, of course, is the official residence of the Lord Mayor, erected in 1739-52 by Dance. The Corinthian portico is surmounted by a pediment enriched with Sir Robert Taylor's allegorical group in relief; and the flight of steps on the left leads to the Police Court. Looking down Queen Victoria Street, one notices the turreted tower of St. Mary's Aldermary.

source: The Queen's London, 1896