Somerset House is a large complex of buildings on the south side of the Strand overlooking the river Thames. It was built on the grounds of an old Tudor palace by Sir William Chambers in 1776 with wings and extensions added during Victorian times.
Somerset House was the location of many government departments. Of particular relevance to Agatha Christie is the Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths which occupied the north wing of the complex from 1836 to 1970.
Occurrences of Somerset House in Agatha Christie's works and adaptations
- The Body in the Library - In Chapter 20, Miss Marple says that they would have a good idea of who the murderers were if they visit Somerset House (to check up on who was married to whom). Her revelations in chapter 21 seems to imply that she did go there.
- Postern of Fate - Tommy Beresford asks Miss Collodon to retrieve some information from Somerset House, regarding addresses, births, marriages, and deaths of women named Mary Jordan.
- The Pale Horse - Katherine Corrigan looks up the terms of a will favouring Thomasina Tuckerton at Somerset House. Later, when hatching a plan to uncover the doings at the Pale Horse, she tells Mark Easterbrook the criminals could verify his previous marriage from the records at Somerset House.
- The Sittaford Mystery - Inspector Narracott and his men discovered from Somerset House records that Martin Dering is the nephew of Mr Rycroft, one of the residents of Sittaford. However this finding is rather incidental to plot.
- Why Didn't They Ask Evans? - Frankie Derwent looks up the will of John Savage there.
- 4.50 from Paddington (1987 BBC adaptation) - Miss Marple goes to Somerset House and discovers who is married to the murder victim Anna Stravinska.
- They do it with Mirrors (1991 BBC adaptation) - Miss Marple sends Griselda Clement on an errand to Somerset House to verify the birth details of Edgar Lawson.
- One, Two, Buckle My Shoe (1992 ITV adaptation) - Poirot is filmed going to Somerset House himself to check up on some details.
- Greenshaw's Folly (2013 ITV adaptation) - Miss Marple sends Minnie Tulliver on an errand to Somerset House to obtain copies of various marriage and birth certificates to establish the true relationship between the murder victim Katherine Greenshaw and various suspects.