The Strand Block of Somerset House, 1780-1836: Part II

Besides the Royal Academy, write Sonia & Vivian Lipman, the Somerset House building housed the Royal Society and the Society of Antiquaries.

To enter the apartments of the Royal Society and the Society of Antiquaries the visitor turned left in the vestibule, under a doorway crowned by a bust of Newton, the first indication that the Royal Society were the dominant of the two co-tenants. Indeed, while the Royal Society were dissatisfied with the amount of their accommodation, the Antiquaries really had only one ‘state’ room, their meeting room on the first floor, and their library on the ground floor.

The entrance hall, staircase (similar to that on the other side for the Royal Academy but subtly smaller) and the first floor ante-room were shared by the Antiquaries with the Royal Society. The Royal Society even obtained the porter’s lodge for the exclusive use of their porter. The Antiquaries had to accommodate their porter in the lobby, and be content with a kitchen, cellar, two vaults and a privy in the basement, and an apartment for their resident secretary in the attic, next to but, of course, separate from the Great Room of the Royal Academy.

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