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Somerset House

By Philippa Burne, UK, August 2011

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This wonderful white stone building which sits around a courtyard, fronted by the river on one side and The Strand on the other is home to cultural and artistic organizations such as The Courthauld Institute and The Courthauld Gallery – one the best collections of art in London.

There are also offices for fashion, music, environmental and literary organizations. In summer, the courtyard hosts fountains and film screenings (hopefully not at the same time), and in winter it becomes an ice skating rink. But the current building and activities represent the mere tip of the history of this site and its importance in London. The current building dates from the late 18th century and rose from the rubble of the previous palace, which dated back as far as the Tudor Era (1500s), when the first royal mansion was built just after the death of Henry VIII. The area was popular with courtiers who built their houses here from the 12th century on, but it wasn’t really until Queen Elizabeth lived here before her coronation that Somerset House became a royal palace.

Editor's Note: This recommendation was taken from our London Things to Do blog. Visit the original post to continue reading the full post and to learn more about things to do in London. Photo courtesy of Jan van der Crabben via Wikimedia Commons.

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