The Somerset House was first built as a Renaissance palace in 1547-50 for Lord Protector Somerset on the banks of the River Thames.  Two years after the palace was completed, Somerset was executed in 1552 and the palace was given to Queen Elizabeth.  The building was eventually demolished and a new building was constructed between 1776 and 1780 at the same location where the Somerset's palace had stood. In 1835, an east wing was added.    From the beginning, the new building  was a government edifice, housing the prestigious Royal Academy, the Royal Society, and the Society of Antiquaries.  

The Navy Office and Stamp Office also used the building, as did from 1836-1973, the offices of the General Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages.  During the time of John Snow, this office was led by William Farr.


(Quarter Mile Section - L 17)

Source: Inwood, S. A History of London, 1998.

            Weinreb B, Hibbert C (eds). The London Encyclopaedia, 1993.

Front of Somerset House in 1818

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Back of Somerset House in 1857

Click here to see photograph of River Thames side

Somerset House in Cruchley's Map of 1846

Click here to see more details 13 years earlier

Old Ordnance Survey Map of 1873

Click here to see more details 14 years later