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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): COL/MH/AD
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1885-1992
Level of description: Collection
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Extent: 35.4 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Corporation of London


Administrative/Biographical history:

The building of Mansion House was first considered after the Great Fire of London in 1666, but the first stone was not laid until 1739 after much discussion over the selection of the site, the design and the architect. Sir Crispin Gascoigne was the first Lord Mayor to take up residence, in 1752. A fashionable Palladian style with a large classical portico was chosen by the City's Clerk of Works, George Dance the Elder. Built around a central courtyard it contained a cellar, a ground floor for the servants and the kitchen, a grand first floor of offices, dining and reception rooms, including the Egyptian Hall where banquets were held, a second floor with a gallery for dancing and chambers for the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, and a third floor of bedchambers.

The Egyptian Hall is so named because its form was thought to replicate the dining halls used in Egypt during the Roman period, with giant columns supporting a narrower attic area. Reconstructions of such became very fashionable in the 18th century. However, there is nothing Egyptian about the decoration, which is classical in style. Although Mansion House retains much of its original character, there have been changes - one of the most important of which was the covering of the internal courtyard to form what is now known as the Saloon to provide a large reception area.

During its life the house has undergone a number of extensive repair programmes. The most recent was the refurbishment work of 1991-3, when structural repair, careful conservation and complete redecoration were carried out. The result was well received and won a number of conservation awards. Mansion House was originally intended to enable the Lord Mayor to represent the City in appropriate style, and it continues to fulfil this function more than two centuries later.

In 1932 the Officers' and Clerks' Committee was asked to consider the best means to be adopted at the Mansion House for the better keeping of records relating to each mayoralty. It recommended the appointment of an assistant (Alice Shaw) on the permanent staff in the Private Secretary's Office. This may be the explanation for the survival of Mansion House Papers from the 1930s onwards (in contrast with the paucity of records before this date).


Scope and content/abstract:

Administrative files from Mansion House, 1931-1962, on subjects including schools and hospitals; Mayoral receptions, lunches and dinners; the Armed Forces and Armed Services Associations; clubs and societies; exhibitions; the Guildhall; the King George VI Memorial Fund and other charitable funds, patronage; boroughs; the Commonwealth; social services; the Second World War; the unveiling of the Cenotaph; the City press; expenses; visits of Royalty and Heads of State; the Bishop of London and other matters relating to the clergy; the National Savings movement; the Police; refugees; the Royal Exchange; St Paul's Cathedral; sheriffs and state banquets.

Also papers relating to charitable funds organised by the Mayor, 1885-1992. Funds include the National Memorial to General Gordon fund, 1885; the fund for the relief of widows and dependants of sailors and others on the HMS Victoria, sunk in 1893; the Transvaal War fund, 1899; the Queen Victoria memorial fund, 1901-1913; the Titanic Disaster fund (later the National Disasters Relief fund), 1912-1959; the St. Vincent Disaster Relief Fund in aid of Sufferers by Eruption, 1902; the Air Raid Distress fund, 1940-1953; the National Hungarian and Central European Relief Fund, 1956-1958; the Attlee Memorial Appeal, 1967; the Save St Paul's fund, 1971-1973 and the Gresford Colliery Relief Fund, 1988-1992 (the Gresford Colliery files are closed until 2022).

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

In sections according to catalogue.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: City of London

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Corporation of London Records Office.

Allied Materials

Related material:

See also COL/CT: Charities and COL/CHD/PL: Chamberlain's Department, Poor and other relief.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
February 2009

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