Tips and Guides

8 Things You Need to Know About 10 Downing Street in London

Take a peek beyond the most famous front door on the planet


10 Downing Street has recently welcomed its latest resident–the new British Prime Minister Theresa May. Aside from the different decisions made inside it, a lot of famous personalities have stepped inside the property that's well known for its black door since 1735. 

As the official residence of the current prime minister, it also serves as an office where the leader receives and entertain guests–from Her Majesty The Queen, world leaders, and charity workers–welcoming a range of characters in its long history. 10 Downing Street has also been a focal point in pop culture–sometimes seen in music videos and movies.

Learn more about London's famed example of Georgian architecture with these interesting facts:

1. 10 Downing Street has a Georgian façade but the structure is actually Stuart (Stuart Period: 1603 to 1714.) It has five levels–three storeys above the basement and an attic right below its slate roof.

2. The residence of the First Lords of the Treasury in 1735 was originally two houses combined–the townhouse on Downing Street and the house overlooking Horse Guards Park. They were merged on two storeys and was refurbished by the celebrated architect of the day, William Kent.

3. The front door is a six-paneled Georgian Style door, redesigned by the Architect Kenton Couse in 1766. It also features a Lion Head door knocker, a center door knob, and a brass plaque with the inscription “First Lord of the Treasury"–all of which are later additions.

4. The current black Georgian front door is a bomb-proof metal replica. The original was made of black oak but was replaced after an attack on Downing Street in 1991 by the Irish Republican Army. There are two replicas and they are swapped approximately every two years to be repainted.

5. Even if it does have a center door knob, the door cannot be opened from the outside. Even the Prime Minister cannot let himself in–he has no keys to it! There is always a security guard on duty behind the door to let him–and other authorized people–in.

6. The façade of the house is actually painted to look like it was made of black bricks. The bricks were originally yellow but eventually turned black due to the air pollution during the industrial revolution. In the 1960s, the façade was cleaned and its original bright hue was revealed. However, people failed to warm up to the yellow façade as they were used to black. To keep the people happy, the façade, since then, has been painted black.

7. 10 Downing Street is comprised of many rooms and several of them are the Entrance Hall, Grand Staircase, White Drawing Room, Cabinet Room, Terracotta Room, Pillared Room, Small Dining Room, State Dining Room, The Study, and The Garden.

In photo: US President Barack Obama with then Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the Pillared Room. (Photo by Pete Souza from the Official White House Photostream)

8. The Small Dining Room–also known as the Breakfast Room–can accommodate around 12 people. On the other hand, the State Dining Room can sit up to 65 guests with its large U-shaped table. Whenever 10 Downing Street entertains, the table is set with modern silverware commissioned by the Silver Trust.

5 Decorating and Styling Ideas We Can Learn from 10 Downing Street:

1. Symmetry is key.

Find a defining look or element and make sure it's reflected in your home. For an elegant touch, consider having focal pieces like a classic chandelier or a clean palette.

2. Consider placing your entrance right in the center of the facade.

This gives your home a unique upgrade and a stately appeal.

3. Differentiate your home from the rest by opting for special building materials.

Take your cue from Downing Street by choosing brick or stucco, a form of plaster.

4. Install a "fanlight."

This is a semi-circular window that looks like an open fan, above the main door. Opting for this idea gives your home a classic touch and would leave a lasting impression on guests.

5. Add your house number and a knocker on your front door.

This is a welcome change from the usual look with the number on a post or just plain doors in ordinary colors. Create a statement by choosing unexpected hues like black, red, blue, or even purple. Just make sure it blends well with the rest of your facade and interiors.

In photo: The State Dining Room.

PHOTOS: Sergeant Tom Robinson RLC/MOD, OGL via Wikipedia (Main) | The Anglotopia Magazine | Pete Souza via The Official White House Photostream | AllPosters.

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