Unit History: British Embassy Washington
The British Government has had representation in Washington, DC, since 1791. The Embassy moved to its current location at 3100 Massachusetts Avenue, NW in 1930. This location gave them more space, prime location next to the Vice President, and a grand Residence and Embassy. The British Embassy was the first to build on what would later become Embassy Row. Sir Esme Howard was the first Ambassador to live in the Residence.
The Embassy was located previously on Connecticut Avenue. Between 1791, the year when the British first came to the Washington, and 1875, the location changed frequently.
The British Embassy acquired the land for the current Massachusetts Avenue location through a good financial move. They sold the previous office, on Connecticut Avenue, for $500,000 and bought the land on Massachusetts Avenue, for $200,000, thus making a $300,000 profit.
In 1893, the British foreign office in Washington DC was upgraded from a Legation and became an official Embassy. Lord Julian Paunceforte was the first actual Ambassador to the United States. He also was the first Ambassador to send a typewritten letter to the Department of State.
In 1939, the public park bordering the Embassy grounds on Massachusetts Ave was going to be turned into housing. Ambassador Lothian bought the public park and donated it to the British Embassy. Now, it is the current location of the Churchill statue and part of the gardens.
The British Embassy is the largest in Washington, DC. It has nearly 500 employees from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, other Government Departments in Whitehall, and Ministry of Defence. The British Embassy in Washington is the largest British Embassy in the world.
Britain has eight Consulates across the United States.
Every year, 12,000-14,000 people visit the Embassy and Residence.
The Embassy has been visited by many of the worlds leading statespeople. In July 2005, President George W. Bush visited the Embassy to sign a book of condolence following the 7 July bombings in London. HM the Queen hosted President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush for dinner at the Residence in May 2007. Prime Minister Gordon Brown hosted presidential candidates Senators Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barak Obama in April 2008.