SallyOldcow's Blog

The Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street

Posted in Uncategorized by sallyoldcow on April 8, 2010

The Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street, 13 December 2009

Who’s who: Clockwise, from left, Lord Adonis, Transport; Peter Hain, Wales; Yvette Cooper, Work and Pensions; Gus O¿Donnell, Cabinet Secretary; Gordon Brown, Prime Minister; Jack Straw, Justice and Lord Chancellor; Hilary Benn, Environment; Ed Miliband, Energy and Climate; Shaun Woodward, Northern Ireland; Lord Drayson, Science and Innovation; Jim Knight, Employment and Welfare Reform; Nick Brown (end of table), Chief Whip; John Healey, Housing and Planning; Jim Murphy, Scotland; Andy Burnham, Health; Harriet Harman, Leader of the House; Alan Johnson, Home Secretary; David Miliband, Foreign Secretary; Alistair Darling, Chancellor; Peter Mandelson, Business and Innovation Secretary; Douglas Alexander, International Development; Ed Balls, Children, Schools and Families; John Denham, Communities and Local Government; Liam Byrne, Chief Secretary to Treasury; Pat McFadden, Business Minister. Missing are Bob Ainsworth, Defence and Tessa Jowell, Olympics

This photograph was taken less than two hours before the Chancellor Alistair Darling gave his crucial Pre-Budget Report.

The room is shut off from the rest of No10 by sound-proofed doors, framed by two large Corinthian pillars and a little ante-room.

The main space is dominated by a 40ft boatshaped table (1), commissioned in 1959 by Tory Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. Designed so that the Prime Minister gets a clear view of all

his Ministers, it has a modern mahogany top on George IV tripod legs. The table is accompanied by 23 carved, solid Victorian mahogany chairs but only the Prime Minister’s has armrests.

To the left (2) is a portrait by the French artist Jean-Baptiste van Loo of Sir Robert Walpole, the first Prime Minister. Nicknamed Sir Blustering, he served 20 years and 314 days from April 1721 until February 11, 1742, longer than any of his successors.

The painting on the right (3) is View From The Turrets of 11 Downing Street by George Lambert (circa 1740) on loan from The Museum of London.

The clock on the mantelpiece (4) used to annoy the Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, who ordered a second one (5) to be placed opposite the Premier’s chair so that he could time meetings discreetly without having to turn round.

No Minister is allowed to sit directly opposite the Prime Minister to block the view. However, rather disconcertingly, the clocks chime at different times.

Blotters, inscribed with their titles, mark Ministers’ places, each allocated according to rank. Each also has a pencil in House of Commons green and a crystal water glass on a wooden coaster (6) bearing the Downing Street coat of arms.

The room also doubles as a library, begun by Ramsay MacDonald, the first Labour Prime Minister in 1924. Each outgoing Premier donates a book to the collection.

The austere room has little natural light and heavy damask drapes (one of which appears to have parted from its runners), so the three brass chandeliers (7) usually have to be switched on. However, the two 18th Century solid-silver candlesticks on the mantelpiece (8) are purely for decoration.

There are four bowls of Fox’s Glacier Mints (9) and coffee from bone-china mugs, bearing the Royal coat of arms. Only Welsh Secretary Peter Hain (10) seems to want just water.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1235388/The-wider-view-Whats-whos-Cabinet-Room.html

President Obama and his entourage meet Gordon Brown and his Cabinet

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2 Responses

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  1. Anne said, on May 24, 2010 at 5:16 am

    Love the brass chandelier here over the board room table. If only it could talk.
    Imagine the history it has heard. Or maybe we do not want to know.

    • sallyoldcow said, on June 25, 2010 at 7:39 pm

      …………..or seen; e.g. John Major and Edwina Curry (for your own good DON’T hold that image)


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