Address: Pickering Place, off St James’s Street, SW1 (Green Park tube).
A plaque on narrow, wood-panelled Pickering Place in St James’s reveals a little-known historical oddity. It marks the location of the Legation (a type of embassy) of Texas, which was a separate sovereign nation from March 2nd 1836 to February 19th 1846, after gaining independence from Mexico.
The plaque is on the north side of the premises of the noted wine merchant Berry Brothers and Rudd, as the Legation was located in the same building. St James’s was a convenient location for an embassy, as ambassadors were presented to the Court of St James’s at nearby St James’s Palace.
Following independence, the Texans were worried about interference from Mexico and in a bid to protect itself from invasion, the Texas government sought to foster international ties. It maintained a legation in London, as well as in Washington D.C. and Paris. However, attempts to curry favour with the British nearly backfired; when Texas sought to join the US in 1845 the British wanted to keep it independent, as a counterweight to the US. An independent Texas wouldn’t have been financially viable, however, and today it’s the second-largest of the 50 US states (after Alaska).
In the 18th century secluded Pickering Place was notorious for its gambling dens, bear baiting and duels.