The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 28 Bank of England, Royal Exchange, Mansion House

Mansion House

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In front of the Exchange are an equestrian statue of Wellington, by Chantrey (1844), and a War Memorial (1920), by Sir Aston Webb (bronze figures by Alfred Drury). Behind it are a seated figure of Georqe Peabody (died 1869) by Story (1871) and a fountain by Dalou (1879). The Mansion House, or official residence of the Lord Mayor, faces the south end of the Bank, at the point where the Poultry and Queen Victoria St. converge. It is a Renaissance edifice, with an imposing Corinthian portico, erected by George Dance the Elder in 1739-53. The allegorical relief in the pediment is by Sir Robert Taylor. Like the Doges' Palace at Venice, the Mansion House is at once a palace, a court of justice, and a prison. Its site was occupied in 1282-1737 by the old Stocks Market. The chief feature of the interior (visitors generally admitted on written application to the Lord Mayor's secretary) is the Egyptian Hall, 90 feet long and 60 feet wide. Its name refers to the fact that it was constructed with an upper row of pilasters, on the model of the so-called Egyptian Hall of Vitruvius, which, however, bore no resemblance to Egyptian architecture. This upper story was removed in 1796, when to present barrel ceiling was substituted. Here take place banquets, balls, and other entertainments given by the Lord Mayor, as well as numerous public meetings. The windows are filled with stained glass, and the ceiling is supported by fluted Corinthian columns. It contains statues by Foley (Egeria), Westmtcott (Alexander the Great), Lough (Comus), Baily (Genius, Morning Star), and Marshall (Griselda), and also a collection of silver plate, added to by each retiring Lord Mayor. The Saloon is adorned with tapestry and sculpture, including a spirited figure of Caractacus by Foley. The chief feature of the Long Parlour is the ceiling. Other rooms shown are the Venetian Parlour (Lord Mayor's Office), the State Drawing Rooms, and the Old Ball Room (upstairs). To the left of the entrance is the Lord Mayor's Police Court or 'Justice Room.'