The office of British Prime Minister has been around since the 1720s, with Sir Robert Walpole recognised to have been the first. Since then, and as of 2021, the United Kingdom has had 77 of them, from the great and the good to the weak and unscrupulous. Many are forgotten, others stand out in the national consciousness and some of their homes are open to the public.
The title of Prime Minister was once considered an insult - the implication being that a person had risen too highly in royal circles. The belief was that a monarch should be their own prime minister. Sir Robert Walpole was First Lord of the Treasury in the early 18th century. Walpole manipulated and influenced politics so that he became the primary figure, although he unequivocally denied that he was the ‘Prime’ Minister. The role wasn’t formalised until the late 1800s.
Many Prime Ministers have faded into obscurity. As well as their expertise in the House of Commons, some are still renowned for their skill on the battlefield, their literary achievements or their passion for other pastimes, such as sailing. Many saw out their final days in grand stately homes which they acquired as a result of their premiership.
Here are eight of their previous homes which you can visit.