NW Quadrant, East of Rock Creek, Lafayette Square, Architecturally Significant, Diplomats, Also of Interest

Owen Meredith
(November 8, 1831 – November 24, 1891)

1525 H St. NW, Lafayette Square neighborhood, DC.
Now the St. John's Church Parish House.

Robert Bulwer, Earl Lytton, published under the pen name of Owen Meredith. He is the author of six volumes of poetry and the novel-in-verse Lucile (1860).

He lived here in 1849 at age 18, when this building housed the British Legation, while serving as private secretary to his uncle, the British Minister Sir Henry Bulwer. He would later be posted to several European countries, before serving as Viceroy to India between 1876 and 1878, during the Great Famine. The British trading policies he enforced were widely blamed for the severity of the famine, which may have killed as many as ten million people. His final diplomatic posting, in 1887, was to Paris.

Historian Constance Green writes, "In the winter of 1849-1850...Bulwer Lytton, then aide to his uncle, the British minister, composed the romantic poem which, when published in 1860, led countless readers to name their daughters Lucile. Not until later did Washington hostesses learn that 'Owen Meredith' was one and the same as the attractive young Englishman who had secretly written poetry in the brownstone house looking out over Lafayette Square when he was not drinking and dancing with the belles of the capital."

Architect: Matthew St. Clair Clarke.
Year: 1834.
When Meredith lived here, the building had a simple, unadorned façade. In 1854, Thomas U. Walter did a major renovation, transforming the house into an Italianate mansion with sandstone window and door frames with boldly projecting triangular pediments supported by brackets. An 1877 renovation added the mansard roof. Also known as Ashburton House. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.