Somerset House

Somerset House The Royal Society mace is situated in front of the President during a meeting in Somerset House.

Somerset House was the Royal Society's third home and was used from 1780 to 1857.

Somerset House was constructed in the Strand on the site of an earlier Tudor palace demolished in 1775. The architect, Sir William Chambers, was ordered to accommodate the Navy Board and the three principal learned societies: the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Arts and the Society of Antiquaries. The Strand frontage of the building was ready for occupation by late 1779, with the Royal Society and the Antiquaries allocated the building to the east of the Strand entrance, in which a shared staircase led to separate apartments.

The Society moved to Somerset House in time for its Anniversary meeting in November 1780. The Strand side of Somerset House, including the former home of the Society, has housed the Courtauld Institute of Art since 1990 - a wall plaque and a carved marble sign at ceiling level now indicate the rooms formerly used by the Society. The magnificent courtyard and riverside parts of the building have recently been the subject of a refurbishment programme and are now open to the public.

A delegation from the Royal Society had complained about the size of the rooms available, pointing out in particular that there would be no room for the Repository, which had grown into an important collection of specimens from Britain and abroad. Discussion with Chambers helped to calm the Society's fears, but the Repository could not be retained and was passed to the Trustees of the British Museum for incorporation within the national collections.