On the foundation of the Royal Academy, or very soon after, the old royal apartments were assigned to them, and the old furniture and hangings removed, to go to utter ruin in a shut-up portion of the palace supposed to be haunted.
GM Moser, the first keeper of the Royal Academy, lived here, and his relation, Joseph Moser, gives a very graphic description of the dirty and decayed condition of all this forgotten splendour when the old long gallery and cross gallery and yellow room were opened prior to the destruction of old Somerset House.
Among the crowded articles was an old throne and canopy; curtains of once crimson velvet, from which the gold fringe had been torn; old sconces and candelabra, chairs of state, stools, couches, screens and fire-dogs, old silk hangings in strips and tatters on the walls, gilt leather covers and screens, all piled in confusion.
One elegant room, traditionally called Queen Catherine's dressing or breakfast room, looked like a small temple with a domed ceiling. The figures on the walls were painted in fresco, and all the ornamentation touched in with gold; the few articles of furniture were all antique, and there were several pictures on the ground.
What a fortune for an old furniture collector in these days, and what an ideal place for ghosts! One wonders if they were responsible for the absence of the gold fringes.
The most painful part of the whole story is that at the time these old stores were discovered they would not have been appreciated at all, and would only have been looked upon as old rubbish.Next page: Somerset House rebuilt