Open House Festival

Mansion House

historical house, civic

George Dance the Elder, 1739

Walbrook, EC4N 8BH

The official residence of the Lord Mayor of the City of London, retaining its 18C character, with superb plasterwork and wood carving.

Getting there


Bank, Mansion House, Cannon Street


Cannon Street


8, 11, 21, 25, 26, 15, 17, 141, 521



Accessibility notes

Lift access available.


The Walbrook Entrance

This part of the house was originally designed as an eight-stall stable and coach house, though it was never used for that purpose. In 1846 James Bunning, an architect working for the City of London Corporation, was asked to design a new entrance at the side of the House so that the Lord Mayor could come and go without being in the full view of the general public. The benches date back to 1811 and the chairs were made during the refurbishment in 1991/93 to complement the benches.

The most striking piece of furniture is the 18th century Hallkeeper's Chair, designed to keep the draught out as he met and greeted the Lord Mayor's guests outside the house. The draw at the bottom was used to put a hot pan or coal in to keep the Hallkeeper warm.

In constant contemporary use, it brings the Lord Mayor's guests into the vaulted areas on the ground floor ascending to the Salon.

The Salon

This was once called the 'Saloon' but over time has become known as the Salon. On the first floor, it provides a large reception area under a stunning row of crystal chandeliers (Messrs Osler, 1875). It was originally a roofless courtyard but was covered by George Dance the Younger almost as soon as the Mansion House was opened.

Originally the Mansion House shared the chandeliers to light banquets with the Guildhall, and they were moved back and forth at great risk. In the late 1700s the inevitable happened as they were bringing the chandeliers back from Guildhall: a number of chandeliers were broken. When it was all swept up, the Court of Alderman allowed the Mansion House to obtain its own lights. In 1875 the firm of Messrs Osler was asked to create and install the dramatic row of chandeliers which today adorn the Salon and ante-room to the Venetian Parlour. Each button and pear contains more than 30% lead, to deepen the sparkle and colour. The chandeliers are cleaned and re-pinned on a regular basis. The skilled craftsmen who undertake this work say that the Mansion House chandeliers are unmatched.

The Drawing Rooms

An interlinking pair of rooms with a scheme of decoration inspired by descriptions from the mid-19th century, when the suite of chairs and sofas known as the Nile Suite (c.1803 to commemorate Nelson's sea victories) were first used to furnish these capacious, stately rooms. The Drawing Rooms provide an intimate setting for part of the Samuel Collection. Directly opposite the Drawing Rooms across the floor of the Salon is the Long Parlour.

The Long Parlour

An elegant room, probably the room least changed, the Long Parlour is primarily used for business meetings and dinners. The present furnishings and decoration are designed to recall the mid-18th century character of the room.

The Egyptian Hall

A grand room, seating 350, that should be known as the Roman Hall. It is based on designs by the classical Roman architect Vitruvius of Roman buildings in Egypt, with giant columns supporting a narrower attic area. The Italian architect Andrea Palladio was much taken by this style in the 16th century and it was very fashionable in the 18th century. There is nothing Egyptian about the decoration. The marble statues date from 1854-64 and the stained glass from 1868. The paintwork is close to the original stone colour, which, with the gilding, is intended to create a dignified effect appropriate to this great civic interior.

On the floor above, of particular note is the Old Ballroom.

The Old Ballroom

Running from north to south, off which are two state bedrooms.

The mood of the Old Ballroom is light and airy throughout with an abundance of elaborate plasterwork representing musical instruments etc and carved timber ornament. It is used for meetings, conferences and dinners.

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