We are currently less than a month away from the general election. My first experience of a UK general election was back in the 1980’s as a kid, in the days of Margaret Thatcher and Neil Kinnock. Since then the figures have changed, arguably the policies haven’t. One thing that is constant though is number 10 Downing Street. That potent symbol of the 10 on the jet black victorian door. Used constantly in the media, in the papers, on the news and now online on blogs and vlogs.
The other week I was thinking about the upcoming election, and I started to wonder about the famous venue that houses the Prime Minister of Great Britain. What is its history, and is there more to this terraced house than meets the eye? I had no preconceptions and just assumed it’s existence was arbitrary and functional.
Downing Street, along with Westminster, is built on what used to be Thorney Island:
“The island, shaded yellow in the map below, was created by alluvial deposits at the confluence of the River Tyburn as it flowed into the Thames and branched into two rivulets” (quote and image from Partleton.co.uk):
An early Roman settlement as far back as 55bc downriver from their capital in Londinium (Source: www.gov.uk). The Tyburn now flows directly below Buckingham Palace and into the Thames near Vauxhall Bridge in Pimlico.
Originally 10 Downing Street was number 5, it was changed to number 10 in 1779. So what’s special about the number 10?
10 is the transition from one order to a new order. The start of a new cycle from 0 to 9. Just as the property itself sees a constant transition of one prime ministerial reign to another.
“10 was the Pythagorean symbol of perfection or completeness. Humans have ten fingers and ten toes. Counting on fingers probably led to the decimal number system.” (Source: Encyclopaedia Brittanica)
Taken from mysticalnumbers.com:
“Number ten symbolizes the completion of a cycle.
It is the number of heaven and the world and universal creation.
Ten is the very first number that needs a separate part.
The first letter in the Greek word “deca” (ten) is formed like a triangle.
Pythagoreans used their sacred symbol of the tetraktys when swearing an oath.
It was common to use pebbles. The pebbles were arranged in a perfect triangle:
1+2+3+4 (=10), called the tetraktys.
The Greek word for pebbles, kalkuli, is the source of our word “calculate”.
Bowling pins are arranged in the same shape as the tetraktys: 1+2+3+4=10
In the Tarot ten is the card of the Wheel of Fortune.
The Wheel symbolizes the beginning of a new cycle.
It may also indicate receiving an unexpected fortune.
Reversed it is bad luck and change for the worse.”
- Represent the Creator and the creation, 3 + 7, the Trinity resting in the expressed universe.
- Represent the first couple, the marriage: 1 = the man, 0 the egg fertilized by the 1. The ten gives the indication of a spiritual regression since the marriage is a consequence of the fall of the man.
- The number ten is regarded as the most perfect of numbers, because it contains the Unit that did it all, and the zero, symbol of the matter and the Chaos, of which all came out; it then includes in its figure the created and the non-created, the beginning and the end, the power and the force, the life and the nothing.
- Represent the revelation and the Divine Law.
- At the Mayas, it represents the end of a cycle and the beginning of another. The ten was regarded as being the number of the life and the death.
As for the actual numerals as they are fixed to the door, this from ironmongerydirect.co.uk:
“The ‘0’ numeral is painted at a 37° degree angle sloping to the left.
A Wonky Zero? A commonly given reason for this angled numeral is that it is a nod to the original door which featured a poorly fixed ‘0’. However, Professor James Mosley from the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading has a far more plausible theory in that the ‘0’ is in fact a capital ‘O’ as found in the Roman’s ‘Trajan’ alphabet that was used by the Ministry of Works at the time.”
At the top of the door is the fanlight window. My impression is that it represents a sunset or a sunrise – in keeping with the theme of transition, of birth and death. The window has 7 partitions – the number 7 has many associations: The 7 colours of the rainbow, the 7 deadly sins, 7 days of the week (again symbolic of creation, birth, death and renewal).
This from “The Symbolism of Freemasonry” by Albert G. Mackey (1869)
“This mystical ladder, which in Masonry is referred to ‘the theological ladder, which Jacob in his vision saw, reaching from earth to heaven,’ was widely dispersed among the religions of antiquity, where it was always supposed to consist of seven rounds or steps. For instance, in the Mysteries of Mithras, in Persia, where there were seven stages or degrees of initiation, there was erected in the temples, or rather caves,–for it was in them that the initiation was conducted,–a high ladder, of seven steps or gates…
… In the Mysteries of Brahma we find the same reference to the ladder of seven steps; but here the names were different…
… seven steps were emblematical of the seven worlds which constituted the Indian universe. The lowest was the Earth; the second, the World of Reexistence; the third, Heaven; the fourth, the Middle World, or intermediate region between the lower and upper worlds; the fifth, the World of Births, in which souls are again born; the sixth, the Mansion of the Blessed; and the seventh, or topmost round, the Sphere of Truth, the abode of Brahma, he himself being but a symbol of the sun.”
Perhaps most curious is the arrow at the centre of the window, pointing upwards, surrounded by what look like sun rays. Could this be the arm of a clock pointing at 12, again symbolising the end or the beginning of day and night, morning or afternoon? The transition from one state to another.
The other interpretation is the arrow is a symbol of the male, the spear pointing upwards.
“The black cube is symbolic of Saturn because of occult beliefs in its symbolizing the three dimensional world we live in as a symbol for matter. One of the oddest things surrounding Saturn worship is the observance the NASA Voyager and Cassini missions made when they were taking photos of the poles of Saturn. There is an unexplained hexagon shaped vortex storm on the north pole of Saturn that you can see in the public domain. A hexagon is actually a flattened out cube when viewed at it three dimensionally, so I find it odd that the ancient occult practices somehow knew this and worshipped it before the photographs were taken.” (Source http://illuminatiwatcher.com/decoding-illuminati-symbolism-saturn-black-cube/)
I suppose it would be remiss not to mention the Lions head door knocker.
Perhaps unsurprisingly it fits in with all the other themes already discussed. Not just your predictable representation of “strength” and “power” but “The fact that it is a nocturnal creature means that the lion is a symbol of authority and command over subconscious thought (as night is an ancient symbol of the subconscious – or dream states).
It’s interesting that the lion is considered by many ancient cultures to be a solar animal symbol, however it is primarily a nocturnal creature, conducting its hunting activity mostly at night. Further, the lioness is considered a lunar animal.
This serves as a symbolic message of balance and sound judgment. In that the lion shares the world of both night and day, the lion bears a message of prudence to us. In other words, the lion asks us to not overdo in certain areas of our lives. Rather, keep an even mind and an overall balance in our life activities.” (Source: http://www.whats-your-sign.com/symbolic-meaning-of-lions.html)
So, there you have it. I’m sure there are many more meanings one can extrapolate from this historic icon. On the other hand these hidden meanings may have been completely unintentional. It could be that I’ve made some errors in my references or interpretations.
I would be pleased to see your comments below, let me know if I have made any mistakes, what I may have missed, or any other suggestions.