Here’s what you need to know about Chequers country estate - where Boris Johnson is recovering from coronavirus

Monday, 13th April 2020, 12:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th April 2020, 11:06 am
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is recuperating at his official country retreat after being discharged from hospital (Photo: Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is recuperating at his official country retreat after being discharged from hospital (Photo: Getty Images)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is recuperating at his official country retreat after being discharged from hospital on Sunday (12 Apr).

Mr Johnson spent three nights in intensive care at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London after his coronavirus symptoms worsened.

Having now been discharged, he is taking some time off from the top job and recovering at the Chequers estate, with Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State Dominic Raab deputising in his absence.

Where is the Chequers estate?

Chequers is a country residence in the Chiltern Hills, close to the village of Ellesborough in Buckinghamshire, around 40 miles north west of central London.

Who owns the estate?

The house and its 1,000 acre estate was bequeathed to the nation in 1917 by Sir Arthur Lee to whoever holds the office of Prime Minister.

The property is used as a retreat from the bustle of Downing Street, with Lloyd George being its first prime ministerial occupant in 1921.

It is run and managed by an independent trust and is maintained by an endowment administered by the trustees.

The Trust also receives an annual grant-in-aid from public funds towards maintenance and staffing costs, amounting to £882,000 in 2018/19.

What is the estate used for?

The estate was intended to draw the Prime Minister away from Downing Street to spend two days a week “in the high and pure air of the Chiltern hills and woods”, according to the Chequers Estate Act 1917.

The thinking behind the Act was that it would better the health of the country’s rules, enabling Prime Minister's to better run the country.

How long will Boris Johnson be staying?

The Prime Minister will spend time at the Buckinghamshire mansion while he recovers from a seven-night spell in hospital with coronavirus.

Speaking of his experience, Mr Johnson admitted “things could have gone either way”, after being treated in intensive care for three nights.

He has since been reunited with his pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds as he takes some time to recuperate.

Who else has stayed at Chequers?

The Chequers estate has been the site of many historical moments, including playing host to Sir Winston Churchill.

Churchill wrote some of his most famous radio speeches during his stay amid the Second World War, penning the words in the mansion’s Hawtrey room.

Former Prime Minister David Cameron described the estate as a “good place for thinking away from London” to French president Francois Hollande during a visit in 2015.

More recently, the estate was used by former Prime Minister Theresa May as the location for a crunch 2018 Cabinet meeting to agree her new Brexit proposals.

In the following days, senior ministers - including then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson- resigned after disagreeing with the plans.

Visitors have also included the Queen, US President Donald Trump, and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, along with a string of celebrities, such as Elton John, David Bowie and Bryan Adams.

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