If the expenses scandal taught us anything, it's that politicians like their property and it seems the relationship between public servants and real estate is an historical one. You need only look at some of Britain's most famous prime ministers to see that the premiers like a home to impress, providing a stunning backdrop to some of the most important political decisions in history, no doubt!
Here is our sample of five of the most noted prime ministers and their property legacies.
Charles Grey and Howick Hall
On November 22nd 1830, Charles Grey, also known as the second Earl Grey or Viscount Howick, became prime minister. Leader of the Whig party, he was one of the primary architects of the Reform Act 1832. However, he is perhaps most famous for his affair with Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire. The epic romance was even turned into a film, starring Keira Knightley, and at the time the tryst was one of the biggest scandals to rock the UK.
More tea anyone?
So why was his property so special? The home of the Grey family since 1319, it is where Earl Grey tea originated and is a piece of British history. The tea was specially blended for Charles to suit the water from the well at Howick and, although they didn't register the trademark, it was widely known that Lady Grey used the tea when entertaining in London as a political hostess.
The Hall was also incredibly beautiful and luxurious in its day. The current structure was built in 1782 by William Newton. However, a fire destroyed the whole of the interior of the main house in 1926, along with all the contents of the top two floors. It was rebuilt in 1928 to a different design by Sir Herbert Baker, much to the anger of Georgian architecture lovers.
Lord Melbourne and Brocket Hall
The prime minister of Queen Victoria, Lord Melbourne, also known as William Lamb, is one of our most notorious premiers. A fan of the status quo, he was opposed to Grey's Reform Act and known for several sex scandals. He was most notably the victim of an attempted blackmail from the husband of close friend Caroline Norton, who accused Melbourne of having an affair with his wife.
Melbourne is accredited with training Queen Victoria on political matters and the pair struck up an enduring relationship. So close was his friendship with the Queen that she stayed at his residence Brocket Hall several times. When he died, the property passed to Melbourne's sister who was married to future prime minister Lord Palmerston, who died in strange circumstances at the hall. Margaret Thatcher also stayed there when writing her memoirs.
Margaret Thatcher's London Townhouse
Perhaps missing the long illustrious history of the residences of other prime ministers - not to mention the sprawling grounds and hereditary title - Margaret Thatcher's London townhouse is sure to turn into a memorial for the late premier.
Policemen not included
The controversial Conservative prime minister was often pictured outside her white-fronted home and it's black door is hauntingly reminiscent of Number Ten and the seat she lost. Even if the property isn't turned into a London attraction, it is sure to fetch a high price in the market and is a piece of political history.
The Blair's and their property portfolio
If you need proof that prime ministers like their property, look no further than ex-Labour leader Tony Blair. In fact, the real estate he has amassed can now probably be referred to as a portfolio. Whether for himself or other members of his family, Blair has been eager to buy up property throughout London.
He has recently bought a GBP 1.35 million four-storey Georgian townhouse in central London for his son Nicky, the Daily Mail reported. This was paid for in cash and is just one of their seven properties, estimated to be worth a collective GBP 20 million! Among these are the family's GBP 3.65 million mansion, two flats in Bristol and the GBP 800,000 London mews house.
David Cameron's family properties
You only have to look at current prime minister David Cameron to tell he comes from money, so it is no surprise he has a number of properties. While these aren't anything like the stately piles of some of his predecessors, they are enough to make most of us envious. In addition to the GBP 2.5 million London home and a constituency house, the Cameron family is estimated by the Sunday Times' Rich List to be worth GBP 10 million, some of this in real estate.
Number 10 - Not for sale
So what can be gauged by prime ministers and their properties? Firstly, in days gone by you needed a title and land to enter office. Secondly, modern prime ministers are aware that London property is a safe place to put their money and a valuable asset. When working in a sector that is always changing and volatile, such certainty is no doubt welcome.
- Wednesday 24 April 2013