The UK general election is underway and it is one of the closest races the country has seen.
The British choose among the incumbent Labour Party of Gordon Brown (pictured centre), the Conservative party led by David Cameron (pictured right), and the Liberal Democrats led by Nick Clegg (pictured left.)
Winning the election comes along with the great responsibility of the running the UK, but it also includes some sweet digs – 10 Downing Street.
See where the new (or the same) Prime Minister will host world leaders and sip his 4 o’clock tea.
3) Next to the door is the travelling chest of the Duke of Wellington. Special hinges down the side mean that all the drawers can be locked in one action. It is believed that Wellington may have had this chest with him at the battle of Waterloo in 1815.
1) This is a Chippendale-designed hooded chair which was used by attendants in the days when they sat on watch in the street. It has a drawer beneath the seat where hot coals were placed to keep the guards warm on chilly nights. The scratches in the leather were caused by their pistols.
2) This grandfather clock, by Benson of Whitehaven, sits to the left of the hooded chair in the hall. Its chimes irritated Winston Churchill so much that he had the musical machinery turned off.
4) The room has two clocks - the more prominent one is on the mantle piece behind the Prime Minister's chair. The other is on the small table opposite. The clocks have the disconcerting habit of chiming at different times. Harold Wilson had the second one installed so that he could see the time without having to look over his shoulder.
2) The boat-shaped table was introduced by Harold Macmillan and is designed to allow the Prime Minister to see everyone. No one sits directly opposite the PM. The tabletop is 20th century, but its tripod legs date from the time of William IV.
3) The Cabinet Room also doubles as a library. Outgoing Prime Ministers and Cabinet members have donated books over the years - a tradition started by Ramsey MacDonald.
About the Cabinet Room: Cabinet meetings every Tuesday but historically they have usually been held on Thursday mornings. The only exceptions were during the Second World War and when the house was being renovated. The room was extended in 1796 by knocking a wall down and inserting columns to carry the extra span. The Cabinet room is separated from the rest of the house by soundproof doors. A terrorist bomb exploded in the garden of Number 10 in 1991, only a few metres from where John Major was chairing a Cabinet meeting.
1) The grand staircase leads the way to the State Rooms. It was added when the house was redesigned for Robert Walpole in the 1700s and is built to an impressive cantilever design, with no visible supports. Portraits of every Prime Minister line the walls in chronological order, with the most recent incumbents at the top and group photographs from past Cabinets and Imperial Conferences at the bottom.
3) William Ewart Gladstone was a father figure for the Liberal movement and passionately involved in the politics of Ireland. He spent four separate terms as PM.
4) Winston Churchill -- The only Prime Minister with two portraits hanging on the staircase walls. The Yousef Karsh photo of Churchill is one of the most famous. It was a very long session, which was slowed down by Churchill's continuous puffing on a cigar; eventually Karsh simply grabbed the cigar from his mouth and took the photo. This may explain Churchill's grumpy look.
4) The second portrait of Winston Churchill;
5) Clement Attlee -- Voted the most effective Prime Minister of the twentieth century in a poll of political academics, Attlee presided over the most significant reforming administration of the last century. During Attlee's time as Prime Minister, the National Health Service was established, India was granted independence and one-fifth of the British economy was nationalised.
Until the 1940s Prime Ministers and their wives kept the White Room for their private use. It was here that Edward Heath kept his grand piano. The room contains works by one of the most important English landscape painters of the nineteenth century, J M W Turner. These days it is often used as the backdrop for television interviews and is in regular use as a meeting room for Downing Street staff.
2) This bronze statuette of Florence Nightingale is a reduced version of the Crimean Memorial in Waterloo Place in London, erected in 1915.
1) The ceiling of the White Room has a three dimensional floral design that recaptures 18th century country house style. It contains the four symbols of the British Isles - daffodil, rose, shamrock and thistle. If you look really closely you can find lizards, beetles and butterflies concealed in each section.
3) This antique Waterford glass chandelier originally held candles but was converted to electricity with the rest of the house in 1894. It is one of a pair - the other is in the Terracotta Room.
This was used as the dining room when Sir Robert Walpole was PM. The name of this room changes according to the colour it is painted. When Margaret Thatcher came to power it was the Blue Room and she had it re-decorated and re-named the Green Room. It is now painted terracotta
1) This was William Pitt the Younger's desk and is almost 200 years old. It seems tiny when someone sits at it today. Asquith wrote to Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany from this desk before the First World War and Chamberlain penned a letter to Hitler from here in the 1930s.
2) A legacy of Margaret Thatcher, who commissioned the new ceiling, is the straw-carrying 'thatcher' carved into in the plasterwork above the door leading to the Pillared Room.
3) The gilded ceiling was added during the 1989 renovation commissioned by Margaret Thatcher. Designer Quinlan Terry was brought in the give the rooms a more stately look.
The Pillared Room is said to be haunted. Several staff in Number 10 report having seen or heard 'the lady' - a woman dressed in a long dress and pearls.
The room contains a striking Persian carpet, copied from a 16th century original which can be found in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The Small Dining Room was once known as the breakfast room. Prime Ministers and their families used this room to have their meals until the flat upstairs was renovated. This was a favourite room of Lloyd George and can hold up to 12 people.
2) These candlesticks are set with Welsh slate, Scottish agate, English yew and Irish linen and feature cast-silver figures of a lion and a unicorn.
1) This silver and enamel clock is by Jane Short and Clive Burr. The German electronic movement is mounted in silver champleve and basse-taille enamel panels.
3) This likeness of the British scientist and mathematician by John Michael Rysbrack was probably based on a death mask taken by the artist. Rysbrack, originally from Antwerp, made several versions of this bust. Newton made outstanding contributions in several fields, but is best known for his theory of gravity.
2) The Adam dining chairs originally belonged to the British Embassy in Rio de Janeiro. When the Embassy moved to the new capital Brasilia the new building was considered too modern for the chairs so a home was found for them here.
3) Sir John Soane's design includes high vaulted ceilings and very symmetrical layout with his signature starfish pattern.
Double doors lead you from the Small Dining Room to the larger State Dining room, which is built over the original vaulted stone kitchen. As with the small dining room, this room was designed by Sir John Soane in 1827. On the 250th anniversary of Number 10, in 1985, all the surviving Prime Ministers had dinner together here.
The study was a regular workplace for Harold Wilson and also Margaret Thatcher (now Lady Thatcher), who worked on important documents held in her 'red boxes' and held meetings with her officials, a tradition restored by the current Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Sir Winston Churchill used the room as sleeping quarters.
1) Particles of Moon Rock -- the base reads as follows: Presented to the people of the UK by Richard Nixon,This flag of your nation was carried to the moon and back by Apollo II, and this fragment of the Moon's surface was brought to earth by the crew of that first manned lunar landing.
2) King George III Bust -- This bust, designed by the painter and sculptor Matthew Cotes Wyatt, shows King George III in the classical tradition. Bare-headed and clad in a toga, it deliberately evokes similar images of ancient Roman emperors. It was commissioned for the Board Room of the Treasury, where it was on display for many years.
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