The courtyard of Somerset House was originally a lawn leading to a Renaissance palace and a catholic chapel by the river. The original Somerset House was built by the Duke of Somerset (protector to Edward 6th) on this land and subsequently used by the Danish Queen of James I. It was replaced by today’s glorious neoclassical building (designed by William Chambers) in 1776.
The new Somerset House was headquarters to the tax office, the Royal Society, the Navy Board and the Stamp Office. The Inland Revenue remained on the site up to 2011. A statue of King George 3rd stands at the north end of the courtyard. A good and popular king, expert on the flute and harpsichord and studied architecture under William Chambers. Both, William Chambers and Joshua Reynolds suggested the king ought to fund a Royal Academy of Arts – which he did.
Somerset House has been a set for many films; in particular; St Petersburg in Golden Eye and ‘The Duchess’.
A great free tour of a historic London sight. And until the 14th January the courtyard is turned into an ice rink for festive skating! Check the website for details: https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/