DiCamillo Companion

Chequers (Chequers Court)

  • Built / Designed For: William Hawtrey

    House & Family History: Chequers has been the official country residence of the British prime minister since 1921. There is a common misconception that President Nixon's black-and-white American Cocker Spaniel, Checkers (1952–64), was named after Chequers. The dog was named by Nixon's six-year-old daughter, Tricia, and became a celebrity after then-Senator Nixon mentioned the dog in an emotional, televised speech on September 23, 1952. Because of this, every September 23 is designated National Dogs in Politics Day, which is also known as Checkers Day, after the famous pooch, who was adored by Nixon. Checkers died five years before Nixon became president, so he never got to live in the White House. He was buried on Long Island at Bideawee Pet Memorial Park in Wantagh, where visitors continue to leave flags and flowers at the gravesite as a tribute to the dog. William Safire described a "Checkers speech" as an idiom used to refer to any emotionally charged speech by a politician. During World War I the house served as a hospital and then a convalescent home for officers.

    Collections: Chequers contains an important collection of memorabilia pertaining to Oliver Cromwell formed in the 18th century by John Russell, a grandson of Cromwell. On March 21, 2023 Bonhams conducted an "attic" auction of contents from Chequers.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The garden once was the home of a large elm tree that was supposedly planted by King Stephen in the 12th century.

  • Architect: Reginald Theodore Blomfield

    Date: Circa 1890-1917
    Designed: Alterations and additions

    View all houses

    Architect: Edward Buckton Lamb

    Date: Mid-19th century
    Designed: Additions

    View all houses

    Architect: William Atkinson

    Date: 1823
    Designed: Alterations and additons for R. Greenhill Russell

    View all houses
  • Country Life: XXVIII, 970 plan, 1910. XLII, 324 plan, 348, 372, 1917. XLII, 401 [Cromwell Relics], 1917.

  • Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 1995
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300072074
    Book Type: Softback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade II

  • Current Seat / Home of: The Prime Minister

    Past Seat / Home of: William Hawtrey, 16th century. John Russell, 18th century; Robert Greenhill Russell, 19th century; Lady Anne Frankland Russell, 19th century. Bertram Astley, late 19th century; Henry Delavel Astley, until 1912. Arthur Hamilton Lee, 1st Viscount Lee of Fareham, 1912-21.

    Current Ownership Type: Charity / Nonprofit

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Other

    Ownership Details: Owned by The Chequers Trust and used as a country house retreat for the prime minister.

  • House Open to Public: No

    Historic Houses Member: No