23. Somerset House

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I work in a hideous 70s monstrosity in Southend. The rest of my team work in an historic building in the centre of London which was built on the site of a former palace and has been described as “the Worlds first purpose built office block”. Today, I was lucky enough to get a guided tour.

I only had my compact camera with me. I wish I'd taken the DSLR; still I'll have plenty of other opportunities to go back there.

Statue in the courtyard with Christmas tree and skating rink behind.

Where the plate is on the back of the statue, there used to be a door. This was the entrance to some public toilets! These were presumably down the steps as there's nowhere else for them to have been.

The building was originally built for the Admiralty. Five Sea Lords were housed here and had their offices. That is why today there are five entrances; one for each house.

The bridge between The West Wing and The New Wing is now sadly disused. At one time it was going to be taken out but it has since been decided that it should stay as it has architectural merit. However, how to renovate it is yet to be decided.

The reason this staircase was so small was because it was originally used by servants.

The wooden beams were added to this area on the lowest floor to ensure that the building was strong enough to withstand bombs during WWII. The wood was refurbished several years ago.

When Somerset House was built the Thames used to flow into this part. The area which is now a delivery point for vans and lorries was once where barges were moored.

This part of the building has been used in several films/tv programmes as an authentic Victorian location.

It's not every office building that has tombstones in the basement!

And there's more.

View through the balustrade at the alley below.

The building was originally heated with coal fires. The coal would have been winched up and dropped in through this hole.

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    There are 4 comments, add yours!

    • # Vadim

      Interesting! Thank you for reporting!
      Интересно! Спасибо за репортаж!

      2008.12.11 Reply Cancel

    • # Susan

      Excellent post - enjoyed the sights and the history. Love the point of view on # 11 - looks like part of an M.C. Escher drawing.

      2008.12.10 Reply Cancel

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