For over 200 years, Downing Street has been the residence of the two highest offices in UK government: the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was originally built in the 1680s by Baronet George Downing, who served as a soldier under Oliver Cromwell.
For a large part of the time Downing Street has been used in this way, it had the same sign: a cast iron piece with a pinewood backboard; the raised black letters standing out against the basic white background.
This 19th century sign was sold off by Westminster City Council in the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher was in power and selling public property to private companies and investors was in fashion. Now it has returned to auction, to be held by Bonhams on January 20 in London.
The expected price for the piece is £4,000-6,000, which seems relatively low. The street sign for Abbey Road (made famous by the Beatles) sold for £5,400 in 2009, but that was not the sign in use when the Beatles made their album.
This is an absolutely unique chance to own a piece of British history - or a handy way of tricking tourists to go wherever you want them to go.
Edit: The Downing Street Sign was withdrawn from sale by Bonhams before the auction took place, as it was discovered to be from Downing Street, Cambridge, and not the Downing Street in London.
- More news on Unique
- Enjoy the read? Don't forget to sign up for your free newsletter with exclusive content
- Image: Bonhams