Children’s art, a £10 trendy lightbox and a slouchy sofa perfect for Dilyn the dog: How Boris and Carrie Johnson have made historic country retreat Chequers a more casual affair as revealed in Christmas photo
Festive Zoom calls showing Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie chatting to NHS vaccination ‘heroes’ from the living room of 16th century political Chilterns country pile Chequers have offered a glimpse into how the couple may have influenced the property’s historic decor.
In photos released by Downing Street, the Prime Minister, his wife and their latest addition, newborn Romy dialled in from a relaxed-looking blue couch in one of Chequers’ living room – with sleepy Jack Russell Dilyn dozing alongside them.
As well as historical artefacts that date back centuries, the PM and his wife were surrounded by family Christmas cards – some showing children’s artwork – and the very modern touch of a personalised £10 lightbox sign adorned with the names of their children, ‘Wilf and Romy’.
In leafy Buckinghamshire, Grade-1 listed Chequers, officially known as Chequers Court, has served as a country retreat for serving Prime Ministers since 1921 and is home to priceless original pieces of art and furniture, many of which were placed in the house by Ruth and Arthur Lee, who gifted the property to the nation.
Mrs Johnson, who famously gave Downing Street a £90,000 interiors makeover after being less than impressed by the ‘John Lewis nightmare’ left behind by former Prime Minister Theresa May, appears to have added her own subtle touches to Chequers.
Here, FEMAIL glances over what’s in the background of the couple’s country living room…
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Domestic bliss? In a series of photos released by Downing Street, Boris and Carrie Johnson, holding newborn baby Romy in her arms, hopped onto Zoom for video calls with NHS staff – and offered insight into their life at political country retreat Chequers
A meeting of worlds: While the Elizabethan manor house in the Chiltern Hills is home to priceless artwork and antique furniture, the latest inhabitants have added their own touches, including a comfy blue sofa and a lightbox referencing the name of the couple’s children
‘WILF AND ROMY’: THE £10 LIGHTBOX
Cute: Perched on an antique twisted leg table, a design favoured in the 17th century, is a photo lightbox bearing the names of the couple’s children, alongside a star and a heart
Entirely incongrous to the rest of the room, a fashionable light-box bearing the names of the couple’s children Wilf, one, and newborn Romy, who was born on December 9th, sits on an antique twist leg mahogany table.
A similar lightbox can be purchased from Amazon and other retailers for around £10.
The proud parents have clearly positioned the personalised black and white illuminated box, which also carried a star and a love heart in prime position as they prepare to celebrate their first family as a four.
Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson was born in April 2020 at the height of the first lockdown, while the couple welcomed baby Romy on December 9th. The Prime Minister has eight children in total, it is believed.
PRIZED CHINA IN A GILT-EDGED CABINET
An esteemed set of china, housed in a gilt-edged cabinet is pictured over the couple’s left-hand shoulders.
Although the brand of the delicate blue and white collection of porcelain isn’t known, it’s highly likely to be from Wedgwood, Britain’s most historic manufacturer.
Nothing finer than china! Another nod to the home’s regal past – much of the furniture in the house was sourced by Viscount Lee of Fareham, who gifted Chequers to the country in 1921 – is the fine porcelain collection that sits in an antique cabinet in the living room
Carefully placed on four glass shelves and illuminated with golden light, the fine pottery shows how even a more modest room in historic Chequers still manages to creak with artefacts.
The Elizabethan manor house was largely furnished by Arthur Lee (Viscount Lee of Fareham) in the early 20th century, with many of his pieces still on display at the home today.
SLOUCHY SOFA WITH GOLD CUSHIONS
Dog days: Dilyn the rescue dog made himself home on the relaxed blue sofa, appearing to fall asleep on the comfy couch
The couple’s beloved dog, Jack Russell Dilyn, has been a much loved member of the Prime Minister’s household since he was rescued in 2019, after being abandoned by a Welsh farmer.
During the online video calls, which saw the PM and his wife addressing health staff including Dr Laura Mount, director of healthcare in Central and West Warrington, the happy-looking dog lolloped on the slouchy light blue diamond-pattered sofa which was decorated with gold silk cushions.
Far from being an austere sofa, the relaxed-looking sofa is clearly well used by every member of the Johnson family.
STACK OF BOOKS
While it’s impossible to see exactly what literature Mr Johnson has brought along to Chequers for some festive reading, a stack of six books sat on a small table in the living room.
The small collection of books, apparently for adults, sits next to a telephone and, judging by their casual piling, appear to have been read recently – perhaps offering some festive downtime for the PM?
A little Christmas reading? A pile of seven books, casually stacked, suggest the PM has enjoyed some down time over Christmas
CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS CARDS
Adding to the more relaxed vibe is children’s artwork. Amongst a collection of around 20 Christmas cards that are liberally placed behind Mrs Johnson are some that have been hand-drawn by children – including one bearing a large red santa hat face, and another with the nativity scene carefully drawn by a young hand.
Mrs Johnson donned a festive-looking colourful floral jumper for the meetings while the PM wore his favoured navy suit, white shirt and a blue patterened tie.
They were surrounded by Christmas cards, including some which were adorned with children’s artwork
A Merry Christmas card sent to the Johnsons included one with a sweet santa hat face
A portrait at the back of the living room appears to have been painted in the same room, showing an unknown lady reclining on a sofa next to the same curtains and the same mirrored lights
The bright white wood pannelling of the living room takes on a modern hue, and may have been freshly re-painted recently but upon its walls are some of the property’s historic artworks, including one appearing to show a lady of the house reclining on a chaise longue by the window of the same living room.
The blue curtains in the picture remain suggesting that recent residents of the property – including David Cameron and Theresa May – have kept with the colour scheme in the historic portrait.
Antique furniture including ornate side tables, a walnut cabinet and a large antique coffee table in black with floral detail feature in the room. Right: A photo, possibly of Boris Johnson peeks out from behind the room’s curtains
A million miles from the light box addition, the living room is awash with antique furniture with six pieces in shot, including an ornate grandfather clock, gothic cabinet housing china, and a collection of four tables. The PM’s Government laptop is placed on a black antique table apparently of Asian design. A twist leg table, a design popular in the mid 17th century, is also seen.
A FAMILY PHOTO OR A YOUNG BORIS?
Peeking out from behind the floor-to-ceiling blue-hued curtains is a photo, perhaps of the current PM, in a mirrored frame. The curtains are drawn close together suggesting that the windowsil may hold more personal family photographs.