In 1985, the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher proclaimed that the 10 Downing Street had become “one of the most precious jewels in the history of the United Kingdom”. The building that has housed the official residence and office of the British head of government for decades is one of the best-known government offices in the world, along with the White House and Elysee. Its fame as an uncomfortable and austere place has undoubtedly grown these days after the information about the parties that Boris Johnson and members of his team celebrated during the hardest months of confinement.
Here you can take a virtual tour of Downing Street
OPINION: The party is over
A review of the history of this building reveals that this simple and austere building (nothing to do with the stately mansion of Checkers Court, the prime minister’s 16th-century country house) has more poise. hosts has been as hated by some prime ministers as desired by members of the opposition.
was the businessman George Downing (named after the street), spy for Oliver Cromwell and later for Charles II, who ordered to build between 1682 and 1684 a complex with a series of terraced houses for the local aristocracy taking advantage of its privileged location in the heart of London. Sir Christopher Wren, key architect in the reconstruction of London after the great fire of 1666, he was the author of the project. In 1735 it became the seat of the British Government since the king george ii will give its facilities as a gift to the prime minister Robert Walpole for their services rendered.
Actually, 10 Downing Street it was made up of three buildings: a mansion, a small cabin, and a house in the back. All this was unified in a single space by the architect William Kent at Walpole’s request. The current facade is the same as the one that emerged from the remodeling of Kent, with the exception of the access door, updated by Townsend in 1766.
The remodeling of the farm, located near the Parliament, it was not entirely satisfactory and in fact there were few prime ministers who lived in it during the first decades. The initial construction was done quickly, with cheap materials and with shallow foundations on very soft soil, which sooner rather than later would cause cracks and dampness in the walls. This fact caused continuous damage that has led Downing Street to undergo several renovations throughout its history.
In 1766, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer noted that the house was in a dilapidated state and its demolition was considered due to high maintenance costs and constant deterioration. It was not only the physical state of the house, the neighborhood became in the 19th century an inhospitable place, poorly lit and an area with prostitution. At the beginning of the 20th century, Arthur James Balfour he breathed new life into number 10 by resuming the custom of using the building as the prime minister’s residence.
One of its most famous tenants was Winston Churchill, who during World War II photographed himself leaving Downing Street making the V for victory with his fingers. He took a great appreciation for the house. Not all its inhabitants had the same experience. margot tennant, wife of the prime minister Herbert Henry Asquith He described it this way: “It is an uncomfortable house, with three narrow stairs, which barely fit one person. I have resigned myself to inviting friends only to dinner or in the garden”.
One of the largest rooms is known as the Pillars room, which has a large hall, a Persian rug on a wooden floor and various pictorial portraits of illustrious members of British history. It is used for large receptions, such as when the England Rugby Union team won the 2003 World Cup, and for the signing of international deals. There is a portrait of queen elizabeth i over the fireplace.
Of the three State rooms inside the complex, the one known as white room, with a large fireplace, which in the past served as a space for private use by the prime ministers. It is currently the scene of meetings of the prime minister with other international leaders. But maybe the The best known room is the Cabinet, on the top floor, where the council of ministers meets every Thursday morning.
In 1991, the GO TO placed a vehicle in white hall to launch a mortar attack on number 10. The explosion occurred in the back garden, and the displacement of air caused windows to open in the cabinet room as the then prime minister John Major He was holding a meeting of his council. Since then, security measures have been expanded. The front door, which had no lock and was guarded only by a policeman, was reinforced. To prevent acts of espionage, double windows and doors were placed.
In recent weeks, Downintg Street has once again been in the eye of the storm. This time for the parties that Boris Johnson’s team organized during the periods of confinement. Gone is the image of an uncomfortable and austere place to become a glamorous stage where advisers and politicians have to come with a bottle of alcohol under your arm.