Wednesday, September 29, 2021

From 10 Downing Street to the official residence of the British Prime Minister


Zubair Yaqoob
The author has diversified experience in investigative journalism. He is Chief content editor at
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The 10 Downing Street is connected with the number 11, the official residence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. From the outside it still looks like terraced house, but inside it is more a palace with 100 rooms. British understatement built, so to speak.

The name of the street goes back to George Downing. Sir George had gained such recognition in the 17th century as a soldier, diplomat, and, as some say, a spy under Oliver Cromwell and King Charles II, that the king rewarded him with a piece of land, right by St. James’s Park. Downing was probably also a skillful property speculator, he had a row of houses built, the street was still called Cockpit.

A political address was the number 10 only by a man from Hanover: Hans Caspar Count von Bothmer. In 1714, the Hanoverian Elector Georg Ludwig also became the English King (German: Georg Ludwig; 28 May 1660 – 11 June 1727) was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Luneburg (Hanover) in the Holy Roman Empire from 23 January 1698 until his death in 1727), as the successor to the childless Queen Anne. This was in keeping with the provisions of the Act of Settlement, the basis for the Protestant succession. George I. founded the personal union between Great Britain and Hanover, which remained until 1837.

10 downing inside

The connecting link between Hanover and England was the extremely influential “German Law Firm”. Their leaders were already called prime ministers, but that was not like the prime minister of today. Bothmer, who was instrumental in securing George’s English throne (partly because he spoke English in contrast to the king), became Minister first, then First Minister for German Affairs. The official headquarters of the German Chancellery was at St. James’s Palace, however Bothmer lived at 10 Downing Street. The Londoners spoke of “Bothmer-House”. There he gave large companies, one of his guests might have been George Frideric Handel. The German composer lived in London and taught among others the daughter of King George II, Princess Anne.

Bothmer has become famous for another reason: Thanks to his Hanoverian connections, he was able to buy a huge estate in Mecklenburg, in Klutzer Winkel near the Baltic Sea, ten properties with almost 8,000 hectares of land, so to speak one own county. It helped him that eight offices were pledged to the Elector of Hanover, because the Mecklenburg Duke was under imperial execution, after the united states had sued him for excessive tax. Near Klutz, Bothmer had a family estate built, today called Bothmer Castle.

His motto was: Respice finem, consider the end. So, it stands today in gold letters over the main building. Until 1945, the plant remained in the possession of Bothmer. In the GDR era, the castle was used as a retirement home, then threatened the decay. A few years ago, the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern bought the complex and extensively restored it. Bothmer never saw his castle finished in Klutzer Winkel, he died in 1732.

Following Bothmer’s death, George II. 10 Downing Street bequeathed Robert Walpole, his “First Lord of the Treasury,” the first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Since then, the address has been the official residence of the Prime Minister. However, in practice, the prime minister and chancellor of the Exchequer sometimes swap houses. When Tony Blair became prime minister in 1997, he moved into a roomier number 11 with his large family, while his treasurer Chancellor Gordon Brown entered the 10th.

Under Harold Wilson, Prime Minister from 1964 to 1970 and from 1974 to 1976, the house was so thoroughly refurbished that it was eventually rebuilt. After IRA terrorists launched a grenade attack on the house in 1991, security measures were tightened, including after September 11, 2001.

Internal security is also the responsibility of Larry, Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, the cat who serves as a mouse catcher. The first task of the new Prime Minister, the BBC says: to impress the cat. It is still unclear on Wednesday whether Boris Johnson succeeds.

Read also: Boris Johnson wants point based immigration system

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