Somerset House on the Strand in central London, was acquired by Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector in 1549, when he built himself the imposing town house using materials plundered from nearby buildings, including some of the chantries and cloisters of St Paul's Cathedral, seized as part of the Dissolution of the Monastries. Somerset himself became a victim of his own success, after making too many enemies within the Privy Council, and was beheaded in 1552.
During this period of her life the Princess Elizabeth adopted a very plain style in keeping with her Protestant religious beliefs. Her clothes were plain, in stark contrast to the magnificence of jewellery and embroidery worn by her sister Mary. Elizabeth's image was one of piety and modesty, perhaps to play down the previous scandal of her behaviour with Thomas Seymour and also to demonstrate her like-mindedness with her Protestant brother Edward, who, according to William Cambden, a contemporary biographer of Elizabeth, called her "his sweet sister Temperance". Edward, while looking favourably at his modest sister Elizabeth, was highly critical of the more flamboyant Mary. Mary not only was a faithful devotee of the highly ritualised and ornamented Catholic Church ceremonies, but also favoured brightly coloured clothes and, in Edward's view, "foreign dances and merriment which do not become a most Christian princess".