A mysterious guillotine installed at Somerset House and Londoners are all asking the same question

Londoners have spotted a mysterious guillotine outside Somerset House and are wondering why on earth a deadly execution device has been set up in central London. The ‘ominous’ wooden platform and decapitating machine were first seen on Friday by curious onlookers at the central London workspace and gallery.

The last person executed by guillotine in France was just 45 years ago, but the tradition of using a razor-sharp sheet of metal falling from a height extends to English history as well. Halifax in West Yorkshire got rid of its guillotine – then called a gibbet – in 1650.

Some people are wondering if the brutal head-breaker is enjoying a renaissance here in London in 2022. Andrea Ballatore said: “I know the Royals aren’t very popular at the moment but I didn’t expect that.”

Others joked that it was preparation for a trial for Putin. Phil Amesbury said: ‘I see Somerset House is preparing for Putin’s trial!’ Another user added: “Weird they do Poutine at Somerset House but as good a place as any I guess.”

READ MORE: City of London pictured in ruins as Steven Spielberg begins filming his latest series on a Bank road

One man even joked that this could be the conclusion of the Partygate investigation, while others suggested it was for a uh… “public circumcision”. “Someone didn’t pay for their TV license,” one Reddit user added. It seems that the real reason is not so sinister or revolutionary. Viewers were told it was part of a film set for a new Ridley Scott movie.

Another passerby was told it was for a “toothpaste commercial”. But, production schedules and other filming sessions spotted this week suggest this is a film about French dictator Napoleon with Joaquin Phoenix as the frontman. The guillotine appears to be in place at Somerset House as the neoclassical architecture of the building matches early 19th century Parisian buildings in France.

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Filming for the new film is due to transform the Midlands town of Lincoln in France within weeks, while horse-drawn carriages were seen in Buckinghamshire last week. Ridley Scott’s production company has been approached for comment.

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Hello, I am a journalist for MyLondon. I cover stories across the capital every day.

I graduated as a journalist last year and studied English and history at university, with a particular interest in medieval London.

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