Between 1836 and 1845 Texas was a country in its own right, a republic with an embassy, or legation, in London, the site of which can still be observed in an alley off St James’s Street called Pickering Place.
Texas established its London legation, and another in Paris, partly to gather support to prevent an expected invasion from Mexico and partly as a manoeuvre to make the United States worry about the prospect of England and France having troops in their back yard.
At one stage Britain – are you listening Donald? – offered to guarantee the Texas borders against both the US and Mexico. But an independent Texas was never going to be an economic success and when it joined the US in 1845 the overseas offices were closed.
The London legation was housed in what had once been a brothel and gambling den in the same building as its landlords, the venerable wine merchants Berry Bros, who have been there since 1730. In 1963 the Anglo-Texan society erected a plaque which reads: “In this building was the location for the ministers from the Republic of Texas to the court of Saint James 1842 to 1845.”
When the Texans left they forgot to pay a £160 rent arrears bill. That debt was eventually paid, over 150 tears later, by a party of Texan visitors.
PS: Little known fact – Graham Greene was a founder member of the Anglo-Texan Society.
All previous instalments of Vic Keegan’s Lost London can be found here.