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 […]

Clivia Sir John Thouron (Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens)

Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, came to Washington during their first United States trip as a couple in November 1985. There was overwhelming media attention at each appearance in the star-struck capital, which included the opening of the National Gallery of Art’s landmark exhibition, The Treasure Houses of Britain: 500 Years of Private […]

Map of the Royal Tour in the United States (photo, FDR Presidential Library)

In Canada, the 75th anniversary of the Royal visit to North America is being honored this year with special commemorative coins and whiskey. In the United States, there has been little historical account of the jammed-packed two days in the District of Columbia and northern Virginia during the inaugural trip to North America of the […]

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In 1976, Queen Elizabeth arrived on the HMY Britannia to visit six of the original thirteen colonies and to take part in some of the festivities for the Bicentennial of the American Revolution. In order not to appear to be “pushing it,” for “forgiveness can go so far,” according to an Embassy spokesman, the yacht […]

'Lime House' on Centre Island, New York (April 2014, S. Blakely)

The first ambassador’s wife to live in and influence the new British Embassy in Washington, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, was the spirited Lady Lindsay. She has born Elizabeth Sherman Hoyt and grew up and died on Centre Island, New York. The place was formative to her character and early career, instilling a love of […]

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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 […]

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