What is Somerset House?

Somerset House is most associated with the supply of certified copies of a Birth, Marriage or Death certificates. In 1837, when civil registration began, the Registrar General of the General Register Office was based in Somerset House.


Somerset House is often spelt incorrectly as Summerset House, Sumerset House, Sumerset House and Sommerset House. The first building was a home built for the Duke of Somerset in 1547. Situated in Central London on the Strand, the current building dates from the late 18th century (1776 – 1796).


For nearly 150 years, registers and records stayed at Somerset House. In 1970 the General Register Office moved from Somerset House to St Catherine’s House. The civil registration index became known as the St Catherine’s House index.


From 1970 to 1997 the records were held at St Catherine’s House. In 1997 they were then transferred to the Family Records Centre in Myddleton Street in North London.


Somerset House is now a visual arts centre. Courtauld Gallery, The Gilbert Collection and the Hermitage Rooms fill the building.

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