Downing Street

Downing Street in United Kingdom

Introduction to Downing Street

Downing Street, street in central London, England, near the British Parliament. It is named in honor of Sir George Downing, secretary of the treasury in 1667. Number 10 Downing Street has been the official residence of British prime ministers since Sir Robert Walpole moved there in the 1730s, although a number of his successors have chosen to live elsewhere in London. It is also where meetings of the British Cabinet are usually held. Number 11 Downing Street is the official residence of the chancellor of the Exchequer, and number 12 is the home of the government chief whip. The term “Downing Street” is often used to refer to the British government.

The house at 10 Downing Street is a structure that contains elements from different historical eras. Architects who have worked on the home include William Kent, Sir John Soane, Raymond Erith, and, most recently, Quinlan Terry. The southern side of Downing Street was demolished to build new government offices in the 1860s. Numbers 10, 11, and 12 are the only original houses to survive. Security gates, ending the right of public access to the street, were erected in 1990.” (1)


Notes and References

  • Information about Downing Street in the Encarta Online Encyclopedia
  • Guide to Downing Street

    Downing Street Meaning in Politics

    Description of Downing Street published by Mona Chalabi: The British, understated equivalent of the White House, although it’s more of a kibbutz-type affair. The prime minister’s official residence is at No. 10 Downing Street while 11 Downing Street has been the home of the chancellor of the Exchequer and No. 12 has been where the prime minister’s press and communications offices can be found. The chief whip (which isn’t as strange as it sounds — see below) lives at No. 9.



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