The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 3
Previous to the reign of George the , the chief magistrate
| of the city had no place of fixed residence for administering justice, and exercising his official dignities and hospitality. Various plans were projected to remedy these inconveniences; and as early as , the court of common council resolved, that the sum of which had been paid into the chamber of London by different citizens who had declined to fill the office of sheriff,
and that in the mean time, the said sum
Several architectural designs for the intended edifice were afterwards submitted to a committee composed of the lord mayor, aldermen, and common council men; and that of Mr. George Dance being most approved, the
as it is termed in the inscription deposited within it, of the new mansion, was laid with much ceremony, on the . On the stone was the following inscription:--
This edifice stands in a line with , at the eastern extremity of the Poultry; a situation that was adopted in preference several others which had been pointed out, as being more in the centre of business, and in the heart of the city. The site had been previously occupied by the Stocks Market, which had its origin about the year, when Henry de Walleis, or Wallis, the then mayor, caused
Stocks market was latterly distinguishable only for the sale of fruit, roots, and herbs; but these are stated to have been the choicest of their kinds. At the north end was erected a small conduit, erected about the year ; upon which, after the restoration of Charles II. was set up an equestrian statue, by sir Robert Vyner (lord mayor in ) who designed it as a compliment to the monarch, as well as a proof of his own loyalty. When the circumstances were developed, however, it was found that the saving habits of the citizen had induced him to convert the statue of John Sobieski, king of Poland (which by some accident had been left on the workman's hands) into the resemblance of the laughter-loving Charles; and that of a poor overthrown Turk, beneath the horse, into the protector Cromwell. After the conduit was pulled down, the mutilated Polander was for some years suffered to lie among the rubbish in the purlieus of ; but in the year , it was given by the common council to a descendant of sir Robert's, who removed it to grace his country seat.
When the ground was dug for laying the foundation of the mansion-house, it was discovered to be so full of springs, that it was judged expedient to erect the edifice wholly upon piles. This occasioned a considerable delay, and the building was not completed till the year ; sir Crisp Gascoyne, who filled the civic chair at that period, was the lord mayor who made it his residence.
This edifice, from its confined and low situation, and the want of a sufficient extent in front to give effect to its majestic portico, has an appearance of heaviness and compression, from which it would be free, had its site been more elevated, and in an area proportionable to its magnitude. It is very substantially built with Portland-stone; and the charges of erecting it, including the sum of paid for buildings that were pulled down, amounted to The front exhibits a noble portico, in the style of Palladio, rising from a massy rustic basement, in the middle of which is the doorway leading to the kitchen and other offices. A
| high flight of steps on each side, bounded by a stone ballustrade, leads from the ground to the portico, under the centre of which is the grand entrance. The portico is composed of lofty columns of the Corinthian order, with corresponding pilasters against the building, supporting a large angular pediment, the tympanum of which displays an elaborate piece of sculpture in alto relievo, representing
which was designed and executed by Taylor. The principal figure represents the genius of the city, in the dress of the goddess Cybele, clothed with the imperial robe, alluding to her being the capital of this kingdom, with a crown of turrets on her head, holding the praetorian wand (which extends beyond the cornice of the pediment) in her right hand, and leaning with her left on the city arms. She is placed between pillars, or columns, to express the stability of her condition; and on her right hand stands a naked boy, with the fasces and axe in hand, and the sword, with the cap of liberty upon it, in the other to shew, that authority and justice are the true supports of liberty, and that, while the former are exerted with vigour, the latter will continue in a state of youth. At her feet lies a figure, representing Faction, as it were in agony, with snakes twining round her head; intimating, that the exact government of this city not only preserves herself, but retorts just punishment to such as envy her happy condition. In the group, farther to the right, the chief figure represents an ancient river-god, his head crowned with flags and rushes, his beard long, a rudder in his right hand, and his left arm lending on an urn, which pours forth a copious stream; the swan, at his feet, shews this to be the Thames: the ship, behind, and the anchor and cable below him, very emphatically express the mighty tribute of riches paid by the commerce of this river to the city to which it belongs. On the left hand there appears the figure of Plenty, represented by a beautiful woman, in an humble posture, presenting an ornament of pearls with hand, and pouring out a mixed variety of riches from a cornucopia, with the other; signifying the abundance which flows from the union of domestic industry and foreign trade. Behind her is a stork, and naked boys, playing with each other, and holding the neck of the stork, to signify that piety, and brotherly love, and mutual affection, produce and secure that vast stock of wealth, of various kinds, which appears near them in bales, bags, and hogsheads. Beneath the portico are tiers of windows, which extend also along the entire front, and above is an attic story with square windows, surmounted by a ballustrade.
The east and west sides of this building are uniform in design, the entrances only being dissimilar. Each has a slightly projecting centre, with tier of windows between the basement and the attic story; on the right and left, the cornice is supported by
Corinthian pilasters, between which, at either end, is a very large and lofty Venetian window; the whole is crowned by a ballustrade.
Above the roof, towards the west, is a heavy pile, extending across the edifice, containing the ball-room, &c. A corresponding erection which rose over the Egyptian Hall, at the east end, was taken down a few years ago. The disposition of the interior, and the arrangements to which the architect has had recourse in order to admit sufficient light into the various apartments, evince great professional judgment. The basement story is occupied by the kitchen and domestic offices, and by several rows of strong piers and arches which support the superstructure. The grand entrance in front opens into the saloon, which is very spacious, and is handsomely adorned with Corinthian pillars, in imitation of yellow veined marble. Several pannels of the wainscotting are ornamented with carvings of military implements, &c. painted to imitate bronze; and the light is partly admitted by an elegant dome sky-light, and smaller ones. In this saloon are full length portraits of George II. and III. and queen Charlotte. The south end of this apartment leads into the Egyptian Hall, though wherefore it bears that appellation seems inexplicable, as there is not a vestige of Egyptian character in its whole extent. The ceiling is bowed and disposed into various parallel compartments: it springs from a deep cornice, which originally supported spacious galleries, and is itself sustained by immense columns of the Corinthian order, on each side; and by half-columns at each end: between the latter are the great windows. This chamber occupies the entire width of the house; and, when entertainment are given here, is splendidly lighted by girandoles and lustres: its length from east to west is more than feet; its breadth is upwards of feet. The principal other apartments on this floor, are the Justice Room, and Wilkes's Parlour; the latter is very elegantly ornamented and fitted up; and the sword-bearer's room has a neatly painted ceiling. Above this story the central area is open, and the building forms a surrounding quadrangle, a thorough communication being preserved by galleries and connecting chambers. The Ball-Room and the With-drawing Room are the chief apartments of the story; the former is about the same length as the Egyptian Hall, but considerably narrower: it is surrounded by a gallery for spectators; and the pannels beneath are adorned with stuccoed and carved compartments of almost every kind of musical instrument. The With-drawing Room has a grand but heavy-looking ceiling, the divisions being all loaded with ornaments; over the drapery of the windows are carvings of the city mace and sword, &c. richly gilt. In a contiguous apartment was the State Bed.
Connected with the dignity of the chief magistrate, is the seals of office and regalia.
|The corporate seal is of a circular form, on the obverse is a representation of St. Paul, with a sword in his right hand, and a flag ensigned with lions passant guardant in his left, standing in a city, over the gate of which is a key: legend reverse, the city arms
|with mantlings, &c.; Legend,
The other seal is used for the purpose of authenticating documents forwarded to foreign countries upon affidavit sworn before the lord mayor; it is also used for sealing the precepts which are issued preparatory to St. Thomas's-day for the election of common councilmen and ward officers. The following is the inscription round the seal,
; which is now nearly indistinct from wear.
This seal, which is engraved in Hone's Every Day Book, was made in the year of the reign of Richard II. by command of the court of common council. In the centre, within a large and square compartment, are the effigies of Saints Peter and Paul. The former has a mitre or tiara on his head, and is attired in the pall as bishop of the catholic church, and holds a crosier in his left hand. The latter saint is known by his usual attribute, the sword, which he sustains in his right hand; above each of these saints is a rich canopy. Beneath the compartment just described is a shield, bearing the present arms of the city, a cross, with a dagger in the dexter quarter, supported by lions. It appears to have been surmounted with a low pointed arch. The centre compartment is flanked by niches, with rich canopies and plinths; in each is a demi-figure bearing a mace, and having on its head a triangular cap; these figures are intended to represent sergeants at arms. The canopies to these niches terminate in angular pedestals, sustaining kneeling statues in the act of paying adoration to the Virgin Mary, whose effigy, though much effaced, appears in the centre niche at the top of the seal.
The sword of state is very handsome, the scabbard being of crimson velvet covered with pearls; this was the gift of queen Elizabeth, and is said to have cost There is also a Sunday sword, for church, a common sword for the sessions, and a black sword for the , and the anniversary of the fire of London. The handle of the state sword has a large chased pomel, terminated by an acorn. On side the pomel a figure of Justice, with the sword in her right, and scales in her left hand; on the other side Fame, winged, holding a trumpet in each hand. The pomel is also adorned with attached figures of angels. The cross bar is richly chased, and ends with the head of a lion turned downwards. On the centre upon side, is the city arms, and on the other the royal arms, viz. quarterly, and , England and France; counter-quartered, , Scotland, , Ireland, within the garter. The scabbard is covered with red velvet, enriched with bands, and studded in the intervals with the following ornaments: on the guard at the mouth of the scabbard, the city arms; on the velvet m the division is a shield with the royal arms following, viz. quarterly, , England and Scotland
|impaled, , France, , Ireland, , Brunswick Lunenberg, and Hanover, in a garter. The next division has a harp crowned, the succeeding a rose crowned, and the remaining the city arms. The guard at the mouth of the scabbard, and the bands are richly chased, and the before enumerated ornaments are formed of silver and gilt.
The sword is evidently older than the scabbard.
The mace is very handsome and massy, of silver gilt, the head surmounted by a royal crown, and on the lower part is W. R. the handle and staff is enriched with carvings, &c. The jewel is also very elegant, and is suspended from a portcullis, the collar being formed of SS«s and white and red roses, the former of gold and the latter enamelled.
Many sumptuous entertainments have been given in this mansion; and the princes of the blood royal, and the nobility of the land, have been banqueted with the greatest pomp, and on the most costly delicacies that affluence could purchase.
On the east side of Stocks Market, in the ward of , was anciently situated the church St. Mary Woolchurch-haw, which derived its name from its dedication to the Virgin, and the additional appellation from a trone, beam, or balance in the cemetery thereof, for the weighing of wool; wherefore it was denominated Woolchurch-haw.
The patronage of this rectory was anciently in Hubert de Ria, and Eudo, his son; who gave the same to the abbot and canons of abbey at Colchester, in whom it continued till their suppression by Henry the in the year , when coming to the crown, it still remains therein: but in matters ecclesiastical it is subject to the archdeacon, other than what relates to wills and administrations, which belong to the commissary. This church being destroyed in the great conflagration of , and the same not being rebuilt, the parish was annexed to that of St. Mary Woolnoth.
 Stow's Lond. ed. 1598, p. 178
 Vol. ii. p. 258.