History of venues: Home of the international royals

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There have been so many exciting events throughout this year,  and they are getting so much more creative thanks to technology and advancements in our industry. But if there is one event that I have been looking forward to quite a lot (maybe more than I should) is the London Design Festival, which is on this month (September).

The London Design Festival was first thought up by Sir John Sorrell and Ben Evans. Building on London’s existing design activity, their idea was to create an annual event that would promote the city’s creativity, drawing in the country’s greatest thinkers, practitioners, retailers and educators to a deliver an unmissable celebration of design.

The event’s installations will be spread throughout some of the city’s most highly regarded venues, such as the V&A Museum. This year, Somerset House is joining the rest as the new prominent home to the event’s exhibitions.


As a major centre for arts and culture in the heart of the capital, Somerset House is the perfect match for the event, especially given all its history.

Built by the command of Duke of Somerset, in the 16th century, Somerset House became one of the most iconic and famous venues in London.

At some point in time it became the residence of royalty, Queen Elizabeth I to be exact, and then of the Queen’s consort.

Somerset House was not always called Somerset House. It had its name changed to Denmark House after Queen Elizabeth I died, and Anne of Denmark moved in, where she was to become known for hosting lavish parties and entertainments as a result of her boredom and ‘small group of friends’, as we would now call it.

Somerset House managed to survive the 1666 Great Fire of London and the last Queen to live there was Catherine of Braganza, who left in 1693 back to Portugal.

After that, Somerset House was home to many institutions that ran the country, which included:

  • Inland Revenue
  • Principal Probate Registry
  • General Register Office
  • Sick and Hurt Office
  • The Navy Board
  • Society of Antiquaries
  • The Royal Society
  • The Royal Academy of Arts

Somerset House is a key cultural destination in London, ensuring that those who engage with it are exposed to a broad range of artistic activity, artists, designers and makers. It is also a very popular venue for all sorts of private and corporate events, such as weddings and dinner parties.

If you are a film fan, be sure to spot this location in a few blockbusters, such as James Bond ‘Goldeneye’ and ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’, and ‘Grimsby’, which is out February 2016.

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