10 Downing Street, colloquially known in the United Kingdom as "Number 10", is the headquarters of Her Majesty's Government and the official residence and office of the First Lord of the Treasury, an office now invariably held by the Prime Minister.
Situated on Downing Street in the City of Westminster, London, Number 10 is one of the most famous addresses in the world. Over three hundred years old, the building contains about one hundred rooms. There is a private residence on the third floor and a kitchen in the basement. The other floors contain offices and numerous conference, reception, sitting and dining rooms where the Prime Minister works, and where government ministers, national leaders and foreign dignitaries are met and entertained. There is an interior courtyard and, in the back, a terrace overlooking a garden of 0.5 acres (2,000 m2). Adjacent to St. James's Park, Number 10 is near to Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the British Monarch, and the Palace of Westminster, the meeting place of both houses of parliament.
Originally three houses, Number 10 was offered to Sir Robert Walpole by George II in 1732 . Walpole accepted on the condition that they be a gift to the office of First Lord of the Treasury rather than to him personally. Walpole commissioned William Kent to join the three houses together. It is this larger house that is known today as "Number 10 Downing Street".
The arrangement was not an immediate success. Despite its size and convenient location near to Parliament, few early Prime Ministers lived there. Costly to maintain, neglected, and run-down, Number 10 was close to being razed several times. Nevertheless, the property survived and became linked with many statesmen and events in British history. In 1985 Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said Number 10 had become "one of the most precious jewels in the national heritage."
Famous quotes containing the words downing street, downing and/or street:
“My good friends, this is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. And now I recommend you to go home and sleep quietly in your beds.”
—Neville Chamberlain (18691940)
“The democratic youth ... lives along day by day, gratifying the desire that occurs to him, at one time drinking and listening to the flute, at another downing water and reducing, now practising gymnastic, and again idling and neglecting everything; and sometimes spending his time as though he were occupied in philosophy.”
—Plato (c. 427347 B.C.)
“You had such a vision of the street
As the street hardly understands;
Sitting along the beds edge, where
You curled the papers from your hair,
Or clasped the yellow soles of feet
In the palms of both soiled hands.”
—T.S. (Thomas Stearns)