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Somerset House.

This is a very considerable place of business, and was formerly a palace. Somerset-house is situated in the Strand. It was founded on the site of several churches and other buildings, which were levelled for the purpose, by order of the protector SOMERSET, in 1549. After his execution, his residence fell to the crown. In this palace, queen Elizabeth resided at certain times; Anne of Denmark kept her court, and Catherine, queen of Charles II. dwelt during a portion of the life of her volatile spouse, and continued after his death, until she retired into her native country.

The architecture of Old Somerset House was the mixture of Grecian and Gothic, introduced into England in the reign preceding its erection. The back-front, and the water-gate, were built from a beautiful design of Inigo Jones about the year 1623.

The whole of the structure was demolished in the year 1775, in consequence of an act of parliament, and a most magnificent edifice, from a design by Sir William Chambers, erected instead for the accommodation of all the public offices—those of the treasury, the secretary of state, the admiralty, the war, and the excise, exempted. The Royal Society, and the Society of Antiquaries, hold their meetings here, in apartments which have been allotted to them by royal munificence: and here, also, are annually exhibited works of the British painters and sculptors. The terrace on the south side is a walk bounded by the Thames, and unparalleled for grandeur and beauty of view, which has been recently heightened by the erection of the Waterloo Bridge.

Source: Leigh's New Picture of London. Printed for Samuel Leigh, 18, Strand;
by W. Clowes, Northumberland Court. 1819