July 24, 2019 / 5:08 PM / 3 months ago

Five facts on UK's 10. Downing Street as it gets a new tenant

FILE PHOTO: Larry the cat sits outside 10 Downing Street as British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to make a statement, in London, Britain, May 24, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Boris Johnson made his first speech as Britain’s 77th Prime Minister on Wednesday framed by the famous black door of No. 10 Downing Street, the official residence of British leaders since the 18th Century.

Here are five facts about Britain’s most famous address:

- In 1682, Sir George Downing, a diplomat who used to spy on his friends, built 15-20 terraced houses with poor foundations on the street that now bears his name

- The building became the official residence of the head of government when Britain’s first prime minister, Robert Walpole, was gifted the property by King George II in the early 1730s

- Robert Walpole’s official title was First Lord of the Treasury – the official title of all British prime ministers - and to this day the job title is inscribed on the building’s golden letter box

- Number 10’s famous black facade was not originally black at all, but yellow. The bricks are now painted black to keep up that recognisable front 

- To deal with the building’s mouse problem, a resident cat now lives there. Larry the cat was given the official title of Chief Mouser in 2011. He is reported to be staying on to serve the new tenant.

Reporting by Freddie Hayward; editing by Stephen Addison

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