This bizarre mantle can be found inside the ground floor gents' at Mansion House (as an adornment, not as the urinal itself). Before its transformation into a rather decadent water closet, the room was part of the servants' quarters. The mantlepiece bears a number of panels commemorating chief porters, but at its top includes the harshly worded warning:RULES OF THIS HALLSwear not, lie notNeither repeat old grievances.Whosoever eats or drinks in this hallWith his hat on shall forfeit six penceOr ride the wooden horse.Witness Usher of the Hall
The mysterious 'wooden horse' was an old military punishment whereby the malefactor would be forced to sit astride a pole for an extended period of time with weights attached to his or her legs.
The next inscription reads:
John William Dykes Hall Porter to the Rt Honble Thos. Challis Lord Mayor 1853.
While in office, Lord Mayor Challis also found time to act as Member of Parliament for Finsbury, succeeding Thomas Wakley, the founder of The Lancet. Challis also holds the rare distinction of having his Lord Mayor's Show cancelled because of the death of the Duke of Wellington.
The Challis inscription builds on an earlier one of similar tone:
George Roberts Porter to y Rt Hon Sr Crisp. Gascoyne Lord Mayor 1753.
Sir Crispin was the very first mayor to take up residency in the Mansion House in 1752.
The final plaque, towards the bottom of the piece, is more modern:
Dennis George Cozens Hall Porter to the Rt Hon the Lord Mayor Sir Rupert De La Bere MP 1953
Via the wonders of the British Pathe web site, we can actually view Sir Rupert taking part in a royal river pageant.
And if we might look forward to the next instalment:
Applesoft Googledroid 3.0 Hall Porter to the Rt Hon the Lord Mayor Dick Whittington (clone version 311) 2053.