August garden (jb)

The gardens of the British Ambassador’s Residence in Washington are central in the extended narrative of the place. The setting, grounds and structures, planned by the architect of the complex, the eminent Sir Edwin Lutyens, were meant to be seen and work as a whole. The significance of the particular location within Washington and what […]

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The Embassy’s Animals In addition to the elaborate flora planted in the gardens of the British Ambassador’s Residence, there were failed attempts to import some fancy fauna: peacocks. With their colorful plumage and stately gate, peacocks are standard fare at many European estates, wandering the grounds at will. But at the Residence, a succession of […]

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What became the tumultuous decade of the 1960s at the Washington Embassy began with landscape gardener Perry Wheeler and Lady Caccia working to revitalize the gardens while enclosing them for additional privacy and protection. At the start of 1960, plantings (magnolias, hollies, viburnum, aucuba, cherry laurel, blue spruce) were put in to provide a dense […]

Ground breaking ceremonies at the new British Embassy (Kiplinger Library, The Historical Society of Washington, D.C.)

It did not make mention in any of the newspaper reports of the laying of the cornerstone of the Lutyens-designed Embassy on 3 June 1928, but the “Washington trowel” was employed in the ceremony.  Ambassador Esmé Howard, standing with American architect Frederick Brooke, builder Harry Wardman and some of the diplomatic community but mostly with […]

Garden party, 10 June 1949 Washington Star (Washingtoniana Division, MLK DC Public Library)

The Immediate Post-War Years The monarch’s birthday celebration in the gardens of British Embassy, last held in 1938, was revived in June 1947. The ambassador who greeted guests entering through the wooden Lutyens garden gate was the unconventional, if not eccentric, Archibald Clark Kerr, 1st Baron Inverchapel. Wearing white linens, he presided over a more […]

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The transformation of Washington during the Second World War can be seen in structural changes at the British Embassy. Quickly assembled wartime additions to the Lutyens Chancery were erected in 1940. When those proved inadequate for the burgeoning staff’s needs, property was leased throughout the city and land bordering the Embassy’s service road and Observatory […]

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After leaving Washington and diplomatic life, Elizabeth Lindsay was to finally have a home and garden entirely of her own making. She initially intended to stay in New York for only a while before following Sir Ronald to England. But with the outbreak of war, the condition of her own health and unspecified “family problems,” […]

Sir Ronald Lindsay

Ronald Lindsay retired from the British Ambassadorship in Washington and set sail for England on 30 August 1939, landing just after war was declared on Germany. Elizabeth Lindsay never saw her husband again. His work and failing health confined him to his country for the duration. He died in 1945 and was buried next to […]

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