10 Downing Street, London

10 Downing Street, London

10 Downing Street, or simply "Number 10", serves as both the official residence and workplace of the British Prime Minister, making it the UK's premier address for nearly three centuries. Originally three separate houses, the building now boasts over 100 rooms, with the Prime Minister's family occupying a private residence on the third floor and their kitchen situated in the basement. The remaining floors house offices, as well as numerous conference and reception rooms. The property features an interior courtyard and, at the rear, a terrace overlooking a spacious half-acre garden. The Cabinet Room is isolated from the rest of the building by soundproof doors.

Contrary to popular belief, the famous black front door is constructed from reinforced steel rather than wood. This door lacks a keyhole and can only be opened from the inside, which is why a doorman is always on duty. Speaking of that, the phrase "In the hot seat" originates from Downing Street. The entrance hall of Number 10 contains a large black chair, originally used by the night watchman. Underneath this chair is a drawer that, back in the day, was filled with hot coals to keep the watchman warm during cold nighttime hours. Other iconic features, including the lamp above the door, the lion door knocker, and the black and white flooring in the entrance hall, were added during the premiership of Lord Frederick North between 1770 and 1782.

Like many London properties, Downing Street suffered damage during World War II. On October 14, 1940, a bomb struck nearby, causing damage to the kitchen and state rooms. In 1991, another attack occurred when the IRA launched a mortar attack, resulting in further damage to the premises. A reminder of this attack is a splinter lodged in the upstairs plasterwork, left untouched.

The walls of the Grand Staircase are lined with portraits of every British Prime Minister in chronological order. During Tony Blair's tenure as Prime Minister, he had six plaster bees installed in the window frames of one of the upstairs drawing rooms. Under Mrs. Thatcher, a miniature roof was incorporated into one of the door frames. Regrettably, none of these areas are accessible to the general public, as entry to Number 10 is strictly prohibited for security reasons, with access only granted to staff and authorized personnel.

***HARRY POTTER MOVIE***
Contrary to what most folks usually think of as just the British Prime Minister's home and office, 10 Downing Street also serves as a secret link between the wizarding and muggle worlds, as mentioned in the first chapter of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince". Through this portal, the UK's leader can sometimes have a chat with the Minister for Magic.

It's also where the wizard Kingsley Shacklebolt works undercover, guarding the Prime Minister against the dark magical forces led by Lord Voldemort. Seems like there's more to this place than you'd expect...

Tip:
Best enjoyed as part of a broader exploration of Whitehall and Westminster as a whole.

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10 Downing Street on Map

Sight Name: 10 Downing Street
Sight Location: London, England (See walking tours in London)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

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