IOP Institute of Physics

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REMS Take to the Cabinet Table

26 April 2011

On 8 April 2011 our REMS group assembled outside the famous gates, basking in the unseasonably warm weather.

REMS Group shot outside Number 10

After security, we filed through the number 10 front door, full of anticipation. 

Our excellent guide for the visit, Ollie, firstly showed us that the letter box is actually false, then led us upstairs, past pictures/photos of every Prime Minister (except David Cameron - the convention is that his picture will go up when he leaves office), to the first of the three State Drawing Rooms, The White Room where the Prime Minister receives important guests. 

Unlike most stately homes, we were free to sit down, and were told that Obama, and Hilary Clinton had occupied these chairs just a short time ago. 

The adjoining room was the Terracotta Room, lavishly decorated to a design by Margaret Thatcher. It contained William Pitt's writing desk – remarkably small. 

We were then led to the next room, the Pillared Room – the pillars are ‘false’. Computer buffs were able to admire the portrait of Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace, painted by Margaret Carpenter.

After that we were taken into the ‘small dining room’. This had an interesting split chimney flue which rose either side of the window above the fireplace. We were told that in past times, the window became so hot that the glass would fall out. We were shown some interesting silver objects, including Gladstone’s Loving Cup. 

The visit ended in great style in the cabinet room, where we were invited to take our seats. Richard Hartley found he was the Prime-Minister, and the REMS secretary found himself in Nick Clegg’s seat. Strangely, our REMS treasurer discovered that he was sitting in Chancellor George Osborne’s seat – a meeting of minds? 

We were given ample time for iconic photos, group and individual, around the legendary front door. The staff and police were all extremely friendly, and helped to make the visit truly memorable.

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