In an alleyway next to the Berry Brothers and Rudd tavern in Westminster, a brass plaque has been placed. This plaque marks the site of the former Texas embassy, situated directly above the tavern. It reads, ‘Texas legation in this building was the legation for the ministers from the republic of Texas to the court of st. James 1842-1845 erected by the Anglo Texan society’.
When, amid much controversy, Texas was admitted to the United States in 1845, a brief period of independency was ended. The lone star state had fought for the right to govern itself in the war with Mexico, finally achieving this goal in 1836. Over the following nine years, the republic sought to establish itself as an independent nation by fostering ties with foreign powers. Although initially many were reluctant to even recognise Texas as an autonomous region, England was persuaded to do so in 1842. Its government realised that Texas would eventually be annexed by the American government but wished to delay this moment for as long as possible. Immediately Texan secretary of state Ashbel Smith was dispatched to London to both further diplomatic ties and establish the Texas embassy. Even though England was willing to recognise Texas as a country and hold diplomatic talks, it did not regard it as an ally of any real value. This is clearly seen in the location of the embassy, hidden away on the second floor of a tavern. The tavern itself has stood there since 1730, a testament to the longevity of drinking establishments and, as it would turn out, in direct contrast to the lifespan of the Texas republic. The government of Texas barely had time to set roots in England before it was forced to close its embassy there in 1845. However, the Texans posted in London got the last laugh, running up a 160 dollar bill at the tavern before promptly skipping town. Despite being open for only three years, the Texas embassy in London has a legacy extending to the present day. It was one reason for the founding of the Anglo Texan society, whose main goal is to further good feeling between peoples of both Texan and British heritage. They attempted to do this by finally repaying the 160 dollar debt in 1986. And they honoured the brief diplomatic relationship between England and Texas by erecting that plaque at the members’ expense. This is definitely one of the more curious and interesting American historical sites in London.
The plaque is within walking distance of Green Park tube station and not far from Charing Cross. For those who want to make a day of it, the site is near The National Gallery or St. Jame's Palace.