Whitehall and Westminster have been the focal point of religious and political power in England for centuries. Visitors staying at budget hotels near 10 and 11 Downing Street in London are likely aware that No. 10 is one of the most prestigious addresses in a very historic neighborhood. This is the official residence of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. In 1680 Sir George Downing bought land near Whitehall Palace and built a row of houses. Only four of those houses survived. In 1732 King George II gave No. 10 to Sir Robert Walpole, England’s first Prime Minister. Since then it has been home to such illustrious figures as Benjamin Disraeli, William Gladstone, David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, and Margaret Thatcher. The front door of No. Ten, with the London Bobbie on sentry duty, is one of the most photographed locations in the city. Inside, in addition to living quarters for the Prime Minister’s family, there is the Cabinet Room in which government policies are decided. The Prime Minister entertains official guests in the State Dining Room.
Visitors coming from discount hotels in London near 10 and 11 Downing Street will be interested to know that the less famous No. 11 is the official residence of the Exchequer, the British government’s finance minister. When Tony Blair was PM, he and his family preferred to live at N0. 11. Since 1989, a security gate has protected the approach to 10 and 11 Downing Street.