Hatch, Match, Dispatch

That’s how this palatial building on the Strand was referred to once when housing the Register of births, marriages and deaths. Now, a place for free art exhibitions as well as open air cinema in the summer and a skating rink in the winter, the Somerset House has been used for many functions. A royal abode where young Elizabeth I lived while her half-sister Queen Mary I reigned, and Anne of Denmark, wife of King Charles I kept residence there, temporarily giving it a name of Denmark House.
The original name comes from the first owner Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector to young Edward VI, who commissioned its building in the 16th century. The Duke was executed in 1552 and the house went to the Crown. Initially used by the royals, it was given up for residence to people close to the Crown and suffered from neglect until it was demolished in 1775.
The current building designed by Sir William Chambers has since been home to the Admiralty, the Royal Academy and the Inland Revenue among many other functions.
Somerset house was the first building in England to have parquet flooring and hosted the first performance of an Italian opera in the country. It has also been a popular filming location and features in the James Bond and Sherlock Holmes films. And it once stood in for Buckingham Palace.

Author: Freelondon

I am a journalist and a big fan of London. I decided to combine the two to help people enjoy what this great city has to offer for free.

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