Downing Street, SW1A

Road in/near Westminster, existing between 1684 and now

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Road · Westminster · SW1A · Contributed by The Underground Map

Downing Street has been the home of British Prime Minsters since the eighteenth century.

For more than three hundred years it has held the official residences of the First Lord of the Treasury, an office now synonymous with that of Prime Minister, and the Second Lord of the Treasury, an office held by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Prime Minister’s official residence is 10 Downing Street; the Chancellor’s official residence is next door at Number 11. The government’s Chief Whip has an official residence at Number 12, although the current Chief Whip’s residence is at Number 9.

The street was built in the 1680s by Sir George Downing, 1st Baronet, on the site of a mansion, Hampden House. What was on the site before the mansion is vague, but there is evidence towards a brewhouse called The Axe, owned by the Abbey of Abingdon. Downing was a soldier and diplomat who served under Oliver Cromwell and King Charles II, and who invested in properties and acquired considerable wealth. In 1654, he purchased the lease on land east of Saint James’s Park, adjacent to the House at the Back, and within walking distance of parliament. Downing planned to build a row of townhouses "for persons of good quality to inhabit". However, the Hampden family had a lease which prevented their construction for 30 years. When the Hampden lease expired, Downing received permission to build further west to take advantage of recent developments. The new warrant issued in 1682 reads: "Sir George Downing ... is authorised to build new and more houses further westward on the grounds granted him by the patent of 1663/4 Feb. 23. The present grant is by reason that the said Cockpit or the greater part thereof is since demolished; but it is to be subject to the proviso that it be not built any nearer than 14 feet of the wall of the said Park at the West end thereof."

Between 1682 and 1684, Downing built the cul-de-sac of two-storey townhouses with coach-houses, stables and views of St James’s Park. How many he built is not clear; most historians say 15, others say 20. The addresses changed several times; Number 10 was numbered 5 for a while, and was renumbered in 1787. Downing employed Sir Christopher Wren to design the houses. Although large, they were put up quickly and cheaply on soft soil with shallow foundations. The fronts had facades with lines painted on the surface imitating brick mortar. Winston Churchill wrote that Number 10 was "shaky and lightly built by the profiteering contractor whose name they bear".

The upper end of the Downing Street cul-de-sac closed access to St James’s Park, making the street quiet and private. An advertisement in 1720 described it as "a pretty open Place, especially at the upper end, where are four or five very large and well-built Houses, fit for Persons of Honour and Quality; each House having a pleasant Prospect into St James’s Park, with a Tarras Walk". The houses had several distinguished residents. The Countess of Yarmouth lived at Number 10 between 1688 and 1689, Lord Lansdowne from 1692 to 1696 and the Earl of Grantham from 1699 to 1703. The diarist James Boswell took rooms in Downing Street during his stay in London during 1762–63 at a rent of £22 per annum. He records having dealings with prostitutes in the adjacent park.

Downing probably never lived in his townhouses. In 1675 he retired to Cambridge, where he died a few months after the houses were completed. His portrait hangs in the entrance foyer of the modern Number 10.

The Downing family also built Downing College, Cambridge, which was established in 1800, after its founder Sir George Downing, 3rd Baronet, left a portion of his estate to establish Downing College when the land became available. (A door from Number 10 is in use in the college).

The houses between Number 10 and Whitehall were acquired by the government and demolished in 1824 to allow the construction of the Privy Council Office, Board of Trade and Treasury offices. In 1861 the houses on the south side of Downing Street were replaced by purpose-built government offices for the Foreign Office, India Office, Colonial Office, and the Home Office.

Barriers were erected at the St James’s Park end of the street for the unveiling of the Cenotaph on 11 November 1920. They were a public safety measure intended to prevent the crowds in Whitehall becoming too dense.

When the movement for Irish independence became increasingly violent, it was decided to retain the barriers, which were raised and strengthened. On 26 November 1920 construction commenced on a wooden barricade, 8 feet (2.4 m) high at the end of the street. They were described as being of a "substantial character" mounted on proper foundations and incorporated vehicle gates. The barriers were taken down in 1922 when the Irish Free State was created.

Vehicle access was curtailed in 1973 when metal barriers were placed across the entrance to the street. In 1974, the Metropolitan Police proposed erecting a semi-permanent barrier between the pavement and carriageway on the Foreign Office side to keep pedestrians off the main part of the street. The proposal came with assurances that tourists would still be permitted to take photographs at the door of Number 10. The Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, rejected the proposal, feeling that it would appear to be an unacceptable restriction of the freedom of the public. Wilson’s private secretary wrote "I much regret this further erosion of the Englishman’s right to wander at will in Downing Street."

In 1982 access was further restricted by railings and a demountable gate. They were replaced by black steel gates in 1989. The increase in security was due to an increase in violence, particularly by the IRA during The Troubles.

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Post by Christobel Warren-Jones: Hurley Road, SE11

Hurley Road was off Kennington Lane, just west of Renfrew Raod, not where indicated on this map. My Dad was born at number 4 in 1912. It no longer exists but the name is remembered in Hurley House, Hurley Clinic and Hurley Pre-School
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Post by Johnshort: Hurley Road, SE11

There were stables in the road mid way also Danny reading had coal delivery lorry.n
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Post by Robert smitherman: Saunders Street, SE11

I was born in a prefab on Saunders street SE11 in the 60’s, when I lived there, the road consisted of a few prefab houses, the road originally ran from Lollard street all the way thru to Fitzalan street. I went back there to have a look back in the early 90’s but all that is left of the road is about 20m of road and the road sign.
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The 1750 Rocque map is bounded by Sudbury (NW), Snaresbrook (NE), Eltham (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1750 map does not display.

The 1800 mapping is bounded by Stanmore (NW), Woodford (NE), Bromley (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1800 map does not display.

The 1830 mapping is bounded by West Hampstead (NW), Hackney (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Chelsea (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1830 map does not display.

The 1860 mapping is bounded by Brent Cross (NW), Stratford (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Hammermith (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1860 map does not display.

The 1900 mapping covers all of the London area.


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Westminster - heart of government.

Westminster lies on the north bank of the River Thames, southwest of the City of London. It has a large concentration of London's historic and prestigious landmarks and visitor attractions, including the Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral.

Historically part of the parish of St Margaret in the City and Liberty of Westminster and the county of Middlesex, the name Westminster was the ancient description for the area around Westminster Abbey – the West Minster, or monastery church, that gave the area its name – which has been the seat of the government of England (and later the British government) for almost a thousand years.

Westminster is the location of the Palace of Westminster, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which houses the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

The area has been the seat of the government of England for almost a thousand years. Westminster is thus often used as a metonym for Parliament and the political community of the United Kingdom generally. The civil service is similarly referred to by the area it inhabits, Whitehall, and Westminster is consequently also used in reference to the Westminster System, the parliamentary model of democratic government that has evolved in the United Kingdom.

The term Westminster Village, sometimes used in the context of British politics, does not refer to a geographical area at all; employed especially in the phrase Westminster Village gossip, it denotes a supposedly close social circle of Members of Parliament, political journalists, so-called spin doctors and others connected to events in the Palace of Westminster.

The historic core of Westminster is the former Thorney Island on which Westminster Abbey was built. The Abbey became the traditional venue of the coronation of the kings and queens of England. The nearby Palace of Westminster came to be the principal royal residence after the Norman conquest of England in 1066, and later housed the developing Parliament and law courts of England. It can be said that London thus has developed two distinct focal points: an economic one in the City of London; and a political and cultural one in Westminster, where the Royal Court had its home. This division is still very apparent today.

The monarchy later moved to the Palace of Whitehall a little towards the north-east. The law courts have since moved to the Royal Courts of Justice, close to the border of the City of London.

The Westminster area formed part of the City and Liberty of Westminster and the county of Middlesex. The ancient parish was St Margaret; after 1727 split into the parishes of St Margaret and St John. The area around Westminster Abbey formed the extra-parochial Close of the Collegiate Church of St Peter surrounded by—but not part of—either parish. Until 1900 the local authority was the combined vestry of St Margaret and St John (also known as the Westminster District Board of Works from 1855 to 1887), which was based at Westminster City Hall on Caxton Street from 1883. The Liberty of Westminster, governed by the Westminster Court of Burgesses, also included St Martin in the Fields and several other parishes and places. Westminster had its own quarter sessions, but the Middlesex sessions also had jurisdiction. The area was transferred from Middlesex to the County of London in 1889 and the local government of Westminster was reformed in 1900 when the court of burgesses and parish vestries were abolished, to be replaced with a metropolitan borough council. The council was given city status, allowing it to be known as Westminster City Council.

The underground station was opened as Westminster Bridge on 24 December 1868 by the steam-operated Metropolitan District Railway (MDR) (now the District line) when the railway opened the first section of its line from South Kensington. It was originally the eastern terminus of the MDR and the station cutting ended at a concrete wall buffered by timber sleepers. The approach to the station from the west runs in cut and cover tunnel under the roadway of Broad Sanctuary and diagonally under Parliament Square. In Broad Sanctuary the tunnel is close to Westminster Abbey and St Margaret's church and care was required to avoid undermining their foundations when excavating in the poor ground found there.

The station was completely rebuilt to incorporate new deep-level platforms for the Jubilee line when it was extended to the London Docklands in the 1990s. During the works, the level of the sub-surface platforms was lowered to enable ground level access to Portcullis House. This was achieved in small increments carried out when the line was closed at night.

Ackermann’s:   Rudolph Ackermann (20 April 1764 in Stollberg, Saxony – 30 March 1834 in Finchley) was an Anglo-German bookseller, inventor, lithographer, publisher and businessman.
Apollo Victoria Theatre:   The Apollo Victoria Theatre is a West End theatre, across from London Victoria Station.
Charing Cross:   Charing Cross denotes the junction of the Strand, Whitehall and Cockspur Street, just south of Trafalgar Square in central London. It gives its name to several local landmarks, including Charing Cross railway station, one of the main London rail termini.
Embankment:   Embankment underground station has been known by various names during its long history - including "Embankment".
Goring Hotel:   The Goring Hotel is a 5-star hotel in London, England.
Hungerford Stairs:   The Hungerford Stairs were the entrance point to Hungerford Market from the River Thames. They are now the site of Charing Cross railway Station.
Northumberland House:   Northumberland House was a large Jacobean townhouse in London, which was the London residence of the Percy family, who were the Dukes of Northumberland.
On This Day in London: 1 November:   The first day of November was an important day for two London notables: William Shakespeare and W.H. Smith
Royal Mews:   The Royal Mews is a mews (i.e. combined stables, carriage house and in recent times also the garage) of the British Royal Family.
Shipley's Drawing School:   101 The Strand was an art school from 1750 until 1806.
Victoria Palace Theatre:   Victoria Palace Theatre stands opposite Victoria Station.
Westminster:   Westminster - heart of government.
Westminster Abbey:   Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, is one of the world’s greatest churches.
Westminster Cathedral:   The ’Metropolitan Cathedral of the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ’ is the mother church of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
Westminster Cathedral Choir School:   Westminster Cathedral Choir School is a boarding and day preparatory school for boys in Victoria.

Parker Street looking east (1905):   Before being renamed to Matthew Parker Street, old Parker Street was a Westminster slum.

Abbey Orchard Street, SW1P · Abingdon Street, SW1P · Adam Street, WC2R · Archway Mall, N19 · Barton Street, SW1P · Bennett’s Yard, SW1P · Bridge Street, SW1A · Broad Sanctuary, SW1H · Broad Sanctuary, SW1P · Cannon Street, WC2N · Canon Row, SW1A · Carlton House Terrace, SW1A · Carlton House Terrace, SW1Y · Carting Lane, WC2R · Charing Cross, SW1A · Chubb Court, SW20 · Cockspur Street, SW1Y · Cowley Street, SW1P · Craven Passage, WC2N · Craven Street, WC2N · Dartmouth Street, SW1H · Dean Farrar Street, SW1H · Dean Stanley Street, SW1P · Dean Trench Street, SW1P · Deans Yard, SW1P · Derby Gate, SW1A · Downing Street, SW1A · Duck Island Cottage, SW1A · Duke Street, SW1Y · Embankment Place, WC2N · Exeter Street, WC2R · Gayfere Street, SW1P · Goodwins Court, WC2N · Great College Street, SW1P · Great George Street, SW1P · Great Peter Street, SW1P · Great Scotland Yard, SW1A · Great Smith Street, SW1P · Heathcock Court, WC2R · Horse Guards Avenue, SW1A · Horse Guards Parade, SW1A · Horse Guards Road, SW1A · Horseferry Road, SW1P · Hyde Park, SW1A · Ivybridge Lane, WC2R · King Charles Street, SW1A · Kinnaird House, SW1Y · Lancaster Place, WC2E · Little Cloisters, SW1P · Little College Street, SW1P · Little Deans Yard, SW1P · Little George Street, SW1P · Lord North Street, SW1P · Marsham Street, SW1P · Matthew Parker Street, SW1H · Millbank, SE1 · New Zealand House, SW1Y · Norman Shaw Building North, SW1A · North Court, SW1P · Northumberland Avenue, SW1A · Northumberland Avenue, WC2N · Northumberland Street, WC2N · Old Palace Yard, SW1P · Old Queen Street, SW1H · Page Street, SW1P · Pall Mall East, SW1Y · Parliament Square, SW1A · Parliament Square, SW1P · Parliament Street, SW1A · Plymouth Devonport Constituency, SW1A · Queens Gardens, SW1A · Richmond House Whitehall, SW1A · Richmond Terrace, SW1A · Rochford Southend East, SW1A · Romney Street, SW1P · Savoy Court, WC2R · Savoy Hill, WC2R · Savoy Street, WC2E · Savoy Street, WC2R · Savoy Way, WC2R · Showing every photo/image so far featured, SW1W · Smith Square, SW1P · Spring Gardens, SW1A · St Jamess Chambers, SW1Y · St Jamess Park, SW1A · St Margaret Street, SW1A · St Margarets Street, SW1A · St Margarets Street, SW1P · St Vincents Centre, SW1P · St. Margaret Street, SW1P · Storeys Gate, SW1H · Storeys Gate, SW1P · Strand Underpass, WC2R · Strand, WC2A · Strand, WC2N · Strand, WC2R · Suffolk Place, SE2 · The Arches, WC2N · The Mall, SW1E · The Mall, SW1Y · The Sanctuary, SW1P · The Strand, WC2N · The Terrace, SW1A · The Terrace, SW1P · Tothill Street, SW1H · Trafalgar Square, WC2N · Tufton Street, SW1P · Victoria Chambers, SW1P · Victoria Embankment, SW1A · Warwick House Street, SW1Y · Watergate Walk, WC2N · Westminster Bridge, SE1 · Westminster Bridge, SW1A · Westminster Central Hall, SW1H · Westminster Mansions, SW1P · Westminster Pier, SW1A · Whitehall Court, SW1A · Whitehall Gardens, SW1A · Whitehall Place, SW1A · Whitehall, SW1A ·

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Cruchley's New Plan of London (1848) FREE DOWNLOAD
Cruchley's New Plan of London Shewing all the new and intended improvements to the Present Time. - Cruchley's Superior Map of London, with references to upwards of 500 Streets, Squares, Public Places & C. improved to 1848: with a compendium of all Place of Public Amusements also shewing the Railways & Stations.
G. F. Cruchley

Cary's New And Accurate Plan of London and Westminster (1818) FREE DOWNLOAD
Cary's map provides a detailed view of London. With print date of 1 January 1818, Cary's map has 27 panels arranged in 3 rows of 9 panels, each measuring approximately 6 1/2 by 10 5/8 inches. The complete map measures 32 1/8 by 59 1/2 inches. Digitising this map has involved aligning the panels into one contiguous map.
John Cary

John Rocque Map of London (1762) FREE DOWNLOAD
John Rocque (c. 1709–1762) was a surveyor, cartographer, engraver, map-seller and the son of Huguenot émigrés. Roque is now mainly remembered for his maps of London. This map dates from the second edition produced in 1762. London and his other maps brought him an appointment as cartographer to the Prince of Wales in 1751. His widow continued the business after his death. The map covers central London at a reduced level of detail compared with his 1745-6 map.
John Rocque, The Strand, London

Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1843) FREE DOWNLOAD
Engraved map. Hand coloured.
Chapman and Hall, London

Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1836) FREE DOWNLOAD
Engraved map. Hand coloured. Insets: A view of the Tower from London Bridge -- A view of London from Copenhagen Fields. Includes views of facades of 25 structures "A comparison of the principal buildings of London."
Chapman and Hall, London

Environs of London (1832) FREE DOWNLOAD
Engraved map. Hand coloured. Relief shown by hachures. A circle shows "Extent of the twopenny post delivery."
Chapman and Hall, London

London Underground Map (1921).  FREE DOWNLOAD
London Underground map from 1921.
London Transport

The Environs of London (1865).  FREE DOWNLOAD
Prime meridian replaced with "Miles from the General Post Office." Relief shown by hachures. Map printed in black and white.
Published By J. H. Colton. No. 172 William St. New York

London Underground Map (1908).  FREE DOWNLOAD
London Underground map from 1908.
London Transport

Ordnance Survey of the London region (1939) FREE DOWNLOAD
Ordnance Survey colour map of the environs of London 1:10,560 scale
Ordnance Survey. Crown Copyright 1939.

Outer London (1901) FREE DOWNLOAD
Outer London shown in red, City of London in yellow. Relief shown by hachures.
Stanford's Geographical Establishment. London : Edward Stanford, 26 & 27, Cockspur St., Charing Cross, S.W. (1901)

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