Somerset House is based alongside the Thames in central London, a neo-classical building that is open throughout the seasons – During the summer, you can dance in water fountains and see films on large screens in the courtyard, often new films from blockbusters to lesser-known but still great experiences, whilst in the winter th grounds becomes an ice rink! As well as this it is a large space filled with inspiring art, photography and historical items across various cultures and periods.
This attraction also does two free guided tours:
- Historical Highlights of Somerset House
- The Old Palaces Tour
The Old Palaces Tour is a new addition to the rosta and whilst these tours maybe free it is first come, first served basis (limited places) so I suggest you get there early, put your name down and come back later, this is speaking from experience. I booked myself onto the Historical Highlights of Somerset House tour, arriving at around 11am on the Saturday to put my name down and I can tell you that the tours at 12.15 and 13.15 were already fulled booked, with the 14.15 only having a few spots open, with the last and final tour of the day (15.15) not far behind. I booked myself onto the latter and headed off the explore other sights nearby.
Each tour only operates on certain days, so be sure to check the website before you go, as well as any events that may cause these to not run or other parts of the house to be closed off for the day.
The Historical Highlights of Somerset House Tour
In approximately one hour, you’ll discover evidence of Tudor intrigue and Georgian Enlightenment, scientific curiosity and naval power, extravagant entertainments and ‘the King’s Shilling’, as we lead you from the airy lightwells of graceful staircases to the atmospheric Deadhouse.
A new highlight of the tour is The Miles Stair, located in the West Wing and designed by the internationally renowned architect Eva Jiricna, the stair represents her most ambitious stair structure yet. The treads and landings are made from a material called ductal, this product is a thousand times stronger than concrete.
Excerpt from ‘Somerset House’
If you are not aware, I love learning history and yes, I do it for pleasure and therefore as soon as I saw this tour, I knew I had to go on it and it was well-worth the hour. A guide takes you around the house, full of knoweldge about the house as well as the different galleries and items on display – Ask them questions and they happily answer them with passion and confidence of their knowledge, as well as dates, facts and figures. Wow.
The Tudor time of history is a fasinating one both to Britain and the world, one that draws many to London and other places across the UK and is a must-do history topic in the school curriculum. My many travels abroad, people have asked me questions about this period and it has resulted in lengthy discussions and with the recent discovery of Richard III’s bones, as well as the popular Phillipa Gregory book and TV series ‘The White Queen’ has only driven this interest.
I recommend this tour and for the eagle-eyed film buffs out there, you may recognise some familiar backgrounds to popular films in my photos including Sherlock Holmes (2009) starring Jude Law and Robert Downey, Jr.