The house stands between [what is now] Rawson Street and George Street.
It was built in 1766 – possibly by Carr of York – for John Royds who lived there from about 1770 until the family moved to Bath. The house was Royds's residence, and parts of the house were used as a warehouse to store yarn and cloth.
It has been described as the finest Georgian mansion in the town, and one of the finest town houses in the country. The gardens once extended to what is now Fountain Street.
On 1st September 1768, King Christian VII of Denmark spent a night at the house as he was travelling around Europe under the name Prince George. This is said to be the reason behind the name of George Street
In November 1769, the Marquis of Rockingham stayed at the house during the enquiry which he had called to discuss the problem of the coiners and the murder of William Deighton.
The Salon is double height. The Rococo plasterwork was done by Giuseppe Cortese – at a cost of £70,000 – and represents Mrs Royds as Britannia over the fireplace, and Royds as Neptune on the ceiling surrounded by nymphs representing some of his daughters. There are 2 large mirrors – these are said to be the largest that could be made at the time.
The house was later owned by the Rawson family, and it was used as their banking offices from 1811.
From 1836, the building was occupied by the Halifax & Huddersfield Union Banking Company.
Between 1850 and 1857, there was a branch of the Post Office in the building.
Of the 17 bays which made up the original house, bank and warehouses, only the central section remains.
In 1898, 5 bays of the east wing were removed when (what is now) the Lloyds Bank Building was built to provide more space for the bank. The masonry was used to extend the east wing of the house forwards.
In 1898, the house was renamed Somerset House by J. H. S. Finlinson
This is discussed in the book In & About Our Old Homes.
In the 1920s, the south front was obscured by a parade of small lockup shops. Wade's Bookshop was built into the end of the west wing of the house.
In 1928, the Huddersfield Building Society took over part of the building.
In 2002, the Halifax Civic Trust produced a proposal to demolish the 4 small shops of 1901/1902, which obscure the Rawson Street view of the house, and to convert part of the property into restaurants, Cafés, bars, shops, businesses and private accommodation. In 2007/8, the shops were removed opening out the south frontage once again and the whole building was extensively renovated. From autumn 2008 to early 2010, Calderdale MBC used the main salon as their primary location for civil weddings. Whilst this is no longer their main wedding venue, the salon is still available for that purpose. Civil wedding ceremonies can now be conducted at Spring Hall, Halifax.
Le Metropolitain restaurant now occupies the south court of Somerset House. Calderdale businessman Chris Turczak, who runs the restaurant, has plans to develop the facilities there, offering weddings and civil ceremonies, and providing conference and catering facilities
See Halifax Post Office and Halifax Register Office
Revised 07:49 /20th February 2020 / mmr86 / 6641
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