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What Is Mansion House?

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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2014
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Mansion House is the residence of the Lord Mayor of the financial district of London, known as the City of London. It was designed by architect George Dance and completed in 1758. In addition to providing a place for the Lord Mayor of the City of London to live, Mansion House also serves as a space in which he can entertain guests such as foreign dignitaries and high-level representatives from local businesses. Along with its entertaining rooms, the building also houses a former jail as well as an important collection of 17th-century Dutch paintings. It is open for public tours once each week.

The City of London is the name given to London’s financial district. This area functions somewhat like a village within a city, and as such, it has its own police department, educational services, court, and a number of other services typically associated with a local government. A key civic position within the City of London is that of the Lord Mayor, a figure who acts as a representative for British business interests at home and abroad. Mansion House functions as both a residence and an entertaining space for the Lord Mayor during his term.

British architect George Dance designed Mansion House in the 18th century. Construction on the building began in 1739. The first Lord Mayor of the City of London to occupy Mansion House, Sir Crispin Gascoigne, moved into the building in 1752, although construction work was not fully finished until 1758.

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One of the primary jobs of the Lord Mayor is hosting foreign dignitaries and local businesspeople for dinners, galas, and meetings. Accordingly, a number of meeting rooms and entertaining spaces are found within Mansion House. Perhaps the highlight of these entertaining spaces is the Egyptian Hall, a very large, ornate room that features Corinthian columns and intricate stained glass windows. This hall is spacious enough to accommodate seated dinners of up to 500 guests.

Another interesting feature of Mansion House is its jail cells, which are found in the building’s cellar. These cells provided holding space for prisoners during an era when the building also operated as a courthouse for the City of London, a function it no longer serves. Additionally, it is home to a well-regarded collection of works by 17th-century Dutch painters.

While Mansion House is closed to the public at most times, it can be visited once each week as part of a guided tour. Visitors are generally shown some of its entertaining rooms as well as its art collection, although the exact tour route must be planned around any events taking place in the building on that day. It should be noted that the building is usually closed to visitors during the month of August.

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