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After visiting the tattoo art exhibition at Somerset House I found my way downstairs into a “hidden” exhibition about the old Somerset House palace. This was built during the Tudor period, originally for Protector Somerset, but he died before it was completed.

The palace being next to the Thames, it was ideally placed for river-based entertainment. During the seventeenth century, a floating coffee house called “The Folly” was often moored outside. Visitors travelling along the river would often stop and visit: Samuel Pepys, the famous diarist, himself visited in 1668.

On display are several items from the history of Somerset House, dug up by archaeologists over the years. There is also a barge, used by the Commissioners of the Royal Navy, which would have patrolled the river during the 17th century.