Photograph © London Tourist Board.
10 Downing Street
|Formerly:||Hampden House||Formerly:||Kynvet House|
The modest façade of this building does not reveal the power behind its legendary black door. This is the home of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It is from this place that, for hundreds of years, power has radiated throughout the kingdom. Though the portal appears modest, it conceals a much more complicated building inside. Number 10 is connected to another building, which used to be a standalone mansion. The Downing Street location gets its name from Sir George Downing, a civil servant who built the street on the site of the demolished Axe Brewery. It has been abandoned since the early 16th century. When that building was leveled, it became a residential zone. The earliest record of a home on the spot is from 1581. . But the history goes back much farther than that. In the ninth century, the area was known as the Isle of Thorns. By the 11th century, King Canute had a palace constructed in the area. Subsequent rulers expanded their royal dwellings, and the area became commonly known as the seat of government. The last palace in this neighborhood was Whitehall, which burned down in 1698. However, it wasn't until 1732 that King George II designated Number 10 the official residence of the First Lord of the Treasury, who is also the Prime Minister. The first Prime Minister to live here was Sir Robert Walpole; the last private citizen to live here was a Mister Chicken who left in 1735.
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