Just a block away from St. James Palace, lies a small alleyway that you would likely pay no mind to on passing. This small corridor, however, holds a multitude of history and stories within it’s white washed walls. Pickering Place, at No.4 St. James Street, is the former home of the Texas Embassy.
Though short-lived it represents the past ambitions of the Texas Legislation back when Texas really was its own country. (I say this, because even 150+ years later you still find Texans in denial.)
I have wanted to visit this sacred location since I first moved to England. Perhaps it was all those years of Texas history I was forced to take in school that have only come in handy two times in my life. (1. Visiting the Alamo. 2. Visiting Pickering Place. ) While I often wonder why the Texas school system doomed me to discover much of the world’s history once I was already an adult, I do think it is a unique cultural aspect of a Texas education.
The Texas Legislation rented a room in this small alley from Berry Bros. & Rudd, wine and spirit merchants, which is still in business today. Berry Bros. & Rudd acted as landlord to the Republic of Texas throughout the 1840’s. It was an extremely convenient location for Dr. Ashbel Smith, the London Ambassador from Texas, because most business was done at the Court of St.James which is only a short stroll away. Although Texas eventually gave in and joined The United States, the small plaque hanging in Pickering Place alley is a reminder of the large ambitions of the Texas people.
The history of Pickering Place gets even stranger than just being the former home of the Texas Embassy. Pickering Place is home to the smallest courtyard in Britain and was the location of the very last duel in London. The story goes that this secluded courtyard was once a popular location for gambling dens, duels, and even bear baiting. It seems the Texans were in good company.
No. 4 St. James Place is a two-minute walk from St. James Palace and a true hidden gem of London.