Chequers: where is Prime Minister’s country house?

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Checkers has been the official second home of incumbent Prime Ministers for over 100 years

There are many great houses across Britain but one of the most well known is Checkers.

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It’s a 16th-century mansion that has been a place for prime ministers to relax, host events and welcome important guests for over a century.

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It has never been open to the public, and people can only enter if they are involved in politics or are a dignitary.

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So where is Checkers, what significant events took place there, who was visiting there and will Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie Johnson still hold their wedding reception there?

Here’s everything you need to know.

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Checkers is a country retreat that has been the official second home of Prime Ministers for over 100 years.

What is check?

Checkers is a country retreat that has been the official second home of Prime Ministers for over 100 years.

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Since 1921 any leader of the country could stay there.

It features ten bedrooms, a heated indoor pool in the Orangery, a putting green and 1,500 acres of sprawling lawns.

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The magnificent house, built in 1565, is listed as Grade I on the National Heritage List for England.

Where is Checkers?

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Checkers is based in Aylesbury, near the village of Ellesborough, which is halfway between Princes Risborough and Wendover in Buckinghamshire.

It is about 40 miles northwest of central London and nestles at the foot of the Chiltern Hills.

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Downing Street and Checkers are about 41 miles apart, meaning it takes about an hour and a half to drive between the two.

Who Owns Checks?

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Checkers were first gifted to the nation in 1917 by Conservative Minister Sir Arthur Lee and his American heiress Ruth.

They did so after realizing that the politicians who came to power after World War I were unlikely to have country estates where they could receive foreign dignitaries or relax.

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Ownership now technically falls under The Checkers Trust but is in complete control of whoever is Prime Minister at the time.

Why is the house called Checkers?

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There is no confirmed reason Checkers got its name.

One theory, however, is that it came from an early owner of Ellesborough Manor, Elias Ostiarius. The surname “Ostiarus” meant usher of the Finance Court.

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The manor’s coat of arms also featured a chessboard, and it is thought that the name may have derived from this.

Alternatively, some have theorized that it is actually named after the serviceberry trees that grow on its grounds.

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What significant events happened at Checkers and who attended them?

Checkers was the setting for many of Winston Churchill’s most famous radio speeches, which he penned in one of its rooms during World War II.

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Most recently, it was the spot chosen by Theresa May to ask ministers to agree to her new Brexit proposals in 2018, known as the Checkers plan.

In April 2020, Boris Johnson chose to recuperate at Checkers after being hospitalized with respiratory complications from Covid-19.

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Famous guests of the house have included the Queen, David Bowie, Elton John, Bryan Adams and former US Presidents Richard Nixon and Donald Trump.

Are Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds celebrating their wedding reception at Checkers?

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Checkers was the planned location for a wedding reception for Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie, but reports say that has now changed.

Johnson and his wife married in a private ceremony in May 2021 during the coronavirus pandemic.

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The couple were due to host a wedding reception at the private estate on Saturday July 30 as they were unable to host a party at the time of their wedding due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The venue is now said to have changed due to Boris Johnson’s resignation as Prime Minister.

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It had been hinted that Mr Johnson wanted to stay in part as acting Prime Minister to enforce this – although this claim has been disputed by Downing Street.

However, incoming education secretary James Cleverly said a new prime minister should let the couple celebrate their wedding reception at Checkers, even if Johnson is no longer in power by then.

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Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “I suspect it would be quite a generous move by the new Prime Minister to allow this to happen.

“Such private functions do not burden the public purse.

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“I find it rude to be negative about two people who want to celebrate their marriage and their love for each other.”

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