Boris Johnson’s resignation this week focused attention on a 16th century government-owned mansion called Chequers, when it was revealed that the outgoing prime minister was planning to hold his wedding party there this month.
A high-profile celebration — just weeks after Johnson was forced to quit following a Conservative revolt — wouldn’t be a good look for the Tory party at it prepares to select a new leader. The BBC has reported that Johnson’s now seeking an alternative venue to belatedly celebrate his marriage to the former Carrie Symonds, whom he wed in May 2021.
Here’s a peek into the stately home that’s housed UK prime ministers for over 100 years.
What is Chequers?
Chequers is a 16th century government-owned mansion that’s the official country residence of the UK prime minister. David Lloyd George was the first premier to use the property, in 1921, after the estate was gifted to the nation by British diplomat Arthur Lee.
Where is it?
The property is located in Buckinghamshire, a county in rural southeast England. It’s just under 40 miles, or a 90 minute drive, from 10 Downing Street, the prime minister’s office and London residence.
What is it used for?
Johnson and his wife have regularly visited Chequers during his three-year stint as prime minister. Johnson even isolated there a year ago after being in close contact with Sajid Javid, at the time the UK health secretary, who’d tested positive for Covid-19.
The country retreat has also hosted cabinet events, including a 2018 meeting to agree on the UK’s approach to Brexit, which became known as the “Chequers plan.” Notable visitors to the house have included Queen Elizabeth II, Donald Trump, Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin.
What is inside?
The 1,500-acre estate features a tennis court and a heated pool. The 10-bedroom mansion has a collection of 190 artworks dating back hundreds of years, including portraits of 17th century royals.
How much does the estate cost taxpayers?
British taxpayers paid £916,000 ($1.2 million) to the Chequers Trust during the 2020/21 financial year, a 4% jump on the amount spent in the previous 12-month period. That’s one of the reasons some were outraged at reports that Johnson wanted to host a wedding party there just weeks after a succession of scandals led his government to unravel.
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