Thursday, 3 May 2012


Downing Street, London
Of all the iconic residences for political leaders, 10 Downing Street in London must rank as one of the most unusual.
For all intents and purpose, the building looks like a period town house but like much of the history of this house, looks are misleading.

Sir George Downing
Downing Street was built in the 1680`s by  Sir George Downing, 1st Baronet (1632–1689) on the site of a mansion called Hampden House. Downing was a soldier and diplomat who served under Oliver Cromwell and King Charles II, and who invested in properties and acquired considerable wealth.
No doubt his wealth was aided by the fact that all of his investments were shoddily built and constructed on light foundations. This helped him make record profits and immensely rich.
Sir Winston Churchill, a former resident and Prime Minister remarked, "that Number 10 was shaky and lightly built by the profiteering contractor whose name they bear."

10 Downing Street was originally given as a gift to the then Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Sir Robert Walpole, by George III in 1732. Since then, it has been considerably extended and altered and has been both home and office to successive British Prime Ministers.


Perceval being shot by Bellingham
Downing Street unsurprisingly is very active spiritually. One ghost is said to appear regularly when the nation is facing an emergency, and is dressed in fancy Regency period costume and said to be the ghost of a former prime minister,  Spencer Perceval. By account a rather cold and unfriendly spirit, Perceval became prime minister in 1809 and is to date the only holder of that office to have been assassinated. A man named John Bellingham shot him in the chest as he walked into the lobby of the House of Commons on 11 May 1812 and his body was afterwards brought back to No. 10, where it rested for five days.

During extensive alterations made to the building during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s workmen are said to have encountered the ghost several times. On one occasion his, shimmering shade, was even seen in the garden, crossing towards the wall that back onto Horse Guard’s Parade, where he disappeared.

Another apparition is that of a lady in a long dress who wears a magnificent set of pearls haunts the Pillared Drawing Room, which is used today for official functions and the signing of international agreements. Several messengers as well as people working in the neighbouring offices, have reported both seeing and hearing her phantom.

The entrance to 10, Downing Street

Policemen on guard duty have heard ghostly footsteps plodding their way around the building, although they can never find anyone in the vicinity when they go to investigate. The basement is haunted by a little girl who has been known to hold the hands those walking along its corridors. It is also where several employees have reported the overpoweringly strong odour of cigar smoke, wafting around the rooms. People have speculated that this might be Churchill, although this is unverified.

Downing Street unfortunately is no longer accessible by the general public but here is a link that will give you a 360 degree tour of the house and the haunted areas.


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