One of London’s most famous addresses, 10 Downing Street is the official residence of the British prime minister. The chancellor of the exchequer, responsible for the UK’s money and economy, lives next door at number 11. On any given day, you can see streams of important politicians walking through the doors of these two iconic addresses.
Downing Street has been home to the most influential figures in the UK government for more than 300 years, including Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, and Tony Blair. Number 10 (as it widely known in the UK), a Georgian townhouse completed in 1735, was designed by Christopher Wren, who also designed St. Paul’s Cathedral. In the 19th century, the buildings on one side of the street were demolished to make way for new government buildings, which now house the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
The street was closed to the public in 1989. Visitors can now only glimpse the action from beyond iron railings, though the street reopens to guided tours on occasional weekends as part of Open House London. You might be able to spot the iconic front door from the top deck of a hop-on hop-off tour bus. Visitors often choose to join a guided walking tour or bus tour of London to learn more about the history of this famous address.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Downing Street is not open to the public.
- You can snap a picture of the famous front door at Number 10 from the gates along Whitehall.
- For a look inside the building, you can take a virtual tour on the 10 Downing Street website.
How to Get There
Downing Street runs between St James’s Park and Whitehall in central London. It’s easily walkable from other places in central London, and there are many different public transport options. The nearest Underground stop is Westminster, served by the District, Circle, and Jubilee lines. Public bus #11 and hop-on hop-off tour buses both pass by frequently.
When to Get There
There are usually a number of tourists gathered around the gates at Whitehall throughout the day. The area can get very crowded if there is a public demonstration taking place. London in general is busiest in late spring and summer, so consider visiting in early spring or fall for a relatively quieter experience.
Take a Walk in St. James’s Park
The wide expanse of St James’s Park is one of London’s prettiest open spaces. Its boundaries stretch from Downing Street to Buckingham Palace, and the park forms part of a chain of greenery that also includes Green Park, Hyde Park, and Kensington Gardens. With a picturesque lake, local population of geese and ducks, and wide tree-shaded lawns, it’s a great spot to take a break from sightseeing.