I visited Mansion House as part of Open House London 2012. My first choices were the Bank of England or the Lloyds Building but these were so popular, with queues going way around the block that I settled for the Lord Mayor of London’s residence.
Mansion House was built in 1739-52 and was designed in the Palladian style by architect George Dance the Elder. It is the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London, currently Alderman David Wootton, and is not to be confused with the position of Mayor of London, which is held by Boris Johnson. I’m sure Boris would like to live in Mansion House but thankfully that can wait until he has cashed in on his popularity with the British public, won the Eurovision song contest and can afford to buy something more opulent.
The Lord Mayor is leader of the City of London, a member of the Privy Council and within the City the holder of rank second only to the Queen (ahead of Prince Charles and other members of the Royal Family). The post dates back to 1189 and King John granted a charter in 1215 permitting elections to choose the next mayor. Dick Whittington is London’s most famous Mayor. Incorrectly thought to be penniless Mayor Whittington died childless leaving all his wealth to the Corporation of London from which the City is still benefitting to this day.
The Lord Mayor is elected annually by the Court of Alderman and must first have served as Sheriff. Needless to say only the affluent need apply.
Mansion House is interesting in a faded, bygone lavishness sort of way. All the decoration, pictures state rooms and chandeliers are designed to impress men wearing powdered wigs, embroidered waistcoats and breeches rather than unimpressionable money men from emerging economies.