Mansion House visit
In December Pilgrims visited Mansion House, home of the Lord Mayor of London and also home to The Harold Samuel Collection of Dutch and Flemish 17th century paintings, considered by some to be the best collection of Dutch art in Britain. Lord Harold Samuel of Wych Cross, a wealthy property developer and entrepreneur, left his collection to the City of London in 1987. The Merry Lute Player by Frans Hals is the best-known piece in the collection but there are many other fine paintings, sculpture, and a noted collection of gold and silver plate.
Mansion House has its own interesting history. Until the mid-18th century, Lord Mayors used their own houses or livery halls for their work as head of the City's governmental, judicial and civic functions. The idea of creating a permanent residence came after the Great Fire of 1666. Almost a century later, the first stone was laid in 1739 and the house was completed in 1758. Palladian in style, Mansion House features a ballroom, private apartments of the Lord Mayor and family, and 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. The house also features the great Egyptian Hall on the first floor, the room is where the Pilgrims welcomed incoming US Ambassador Jane Hartley for her maiden speech in September 2022.