History and Tour

PM Record Breakers

10 Downing StreetIn this section we look at a wide-range of anecdotes, quote and statistics about the residents of 10 Downing Street.

That’s amazing! 15 fascinating facts about some of history’s most famous Prime Ministers

  1. Palmerston and his wife were notoriously unpunctual. He often made Queen Victoria late for dinner and it was said that ‘the Palmerstons always miss the soup.’
  2. The Earl of Rosebery rode around London at night in a primrose-coloured carriage trying to cure his insomnia.
  3. The expression ‘Bob’s Your Uncle’ is said to have began when the Marquess of Salisbury gave his nephew the job of Irish Secretary.
  4. Arthur Balfour inherited £1 million on his 21st birthday, making him one of the richest young men in the country.
  5. Disraeli was a prolific author, writing his first novel anonymously when he was just 21. He once said: “when I want to read a novel, I write one.”
  6. A wild heifer once charged at Gladstone and his wife while they were walking in the country. The PM was injured before the cow was shot dead - its head was then displayed in the local pub.
  7. Churchill was born in a ladies loo in Blenheim Palace. He arrived early during a dance.
  8. The Earl of Aberdeen purchased the foot of Hercules, which had been in the Parthenon in Athens for thousands of years, and had it shipped to his home. It has since disappeared.
  9. The Earl of Bute was a budding thespian, often dressing up as Lothario in amateur dramatic productions at his family home.
  10. Campbell-Bannerman was fond of his trees. A house guest once observed: “when he passed those of which he was particularly fond he would bow to them and wish them good morning.”
  11. John Major’s father had a travelling variety troupe who toured the music halls of the UK. At one time he performed as a trapeze artist called ‘Tom Major’.
  12. Before the twice-weekly Prime Minister’s Question Time, Harold Wilson liked to fortify himself with two or three glasses of brandy. He later gave it up to lose weight.
  13. When Chamberlain flew to Germany for his infamous meeting with Hitler in 1938 it was the first time he’d ever been on an aeroplane.
  14. The Duke of Wellington once came across a small boy in the road crying because there was no-one to look after his pet toad while he went away to boarding school. The Duke adopted the toad on the spot.
  15. Ramsay Macdonald received messages - through a medium - from his deceased wife Margaret. He replied to some of them.

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