Mansion House & Cheapside, London
Publisher: F. Frankel & Co. (1904-1916)
Home and office of the Lord Mayor
The idea of creating a permanent residence came after the Great Fire of 1666 to provide a house for Lord Mayors who did not have their own livery hall. But it was almost three quarters of a century later that the architect and Clerk of the City’s Work, George Dance the Elder, was chosen to design and build Mansion House. The first stone was laid in 1739 but it was not until 1752 that Lord Mayor Sir Crispin Gascoigne was able to take up residence there. Work was completed in 1758.
Imposingly Palladian in style, it is faced by a grand temple portico at the front approached by flights of steps each side. The entertaining rooms were built on the first and second floors. The first floor had a roofless courtyard (later covered to form the Salon, the entertainment space) and the great Egyptian Hall. The second floor has a ballroom and private apartments of the Lord Mayor and family. The third and fourth floors contain meeting rooms and staff rooms. The cellars have storage space and once held prisoners’ cells, reflecting the former use of the Mansion House as the Lord Mayor’s Court.
City of London: Mansion House
Cheapside, one of the most important streets in early modern London, ran east-west between the Great Conduit at the foot of Old Jewry to the Little Conduit by St. Paul’s churchyard. The terminus of all the northbound streets from the river, the broad expanse of Cheapside separated the northern wards from the southern wards. It was lined with buildings three, four, and even five stories tall, whose shopfronts were open to the light and set out with attractive displays of luxury commodities
Map of Early Modern London
Cheapside is the former site of one of the principal produce markets in London, cheap broadly meaning “market” in medieval English. Many of the streets feeding into the main thoroughfare are named after the produce that was once sold in those areas of the market, including Honey Lane, Milk Street, Bread Street and Poultry. In medieval times, the royal processional route from the Tower of London to the Palace of Westminster would include Cheapside. During state occasions such as the first entry of Margaret of France (second wife of King Edward I), into London in September 1299, the conduits of Cheapside customarily flowed with wine.
During the reign of Edward III in the 14th century, tournaments were held in adjacent fields. The dangers were, however, not limited to the participants: a wooden stand built to accommodate Queen Philippa and her companions collapsed during a tournament to celebrate the birth of the Black Prince in 1330. No one died, but the King was greatly displeased, and the stand’s builders would have been put to death but for the Queen’s intercession. On the day preceding her coronation, in January 1559, Elizabeth I passed through a number of London streets in a pre-coronation procession and was entertained by a number of pageants, including one in Cheapside.
Meat was brought in to Cheapside from Smithfield market, just outside Newgate. After the great Church of St. Michael-le-Querne, the top end of the street broadened into a dual carriageway known as the Shambles (referring to an open-air slaughterhouse and meat market), with butcher shops on both sides and a dividing central area also containing butchers. Further down, on the right, was Goldsmiths Row, an area of commodity dealers. From the 14th century to the Great Fire, the eastern end of Cheapside was the location of the Great Conduit.