The Mews of London


One of the things I was really looking forward to was visiting some of the London Mews (you know, those little pretty streets made famous by the movie “Love Actually” in the scene where Keira Knightly opens the door to find Andrew Lincoln and some cue cards standing in the street). There are many of them in London, the one made famous by the movie is actually in Notting Hill – St Luke’s Mews; as this was somewhat out of the way given the plans we had made we visited some mews in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The mews are usually hidden away behind archways and you would never know that you are in busy London!

These houses were originally built in the 18th and 19th century to stable horses and provided accommodation above the stables for the servants. The houses sit on cobbled little streets which originally were service roads located behind grand Georgian and Victorian houses.

There was usually a tunnel under the garden connecting with the basement of the house, so servants could slip out to the stable without disturbing the residents. A curious feature of almost any mews house is that it has no windows at the back, so servants could not spy on their betters enjoying a stroll in the garden.

Most mews were utilitarian places, with hard-wearing cobbles and a drain down the middle to take away the waste from the horses.

 The reason they are called “mews” is not immediately obvious. Some research shows that they were named after the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, which evolved from the Kings’ Mews, which goes back to Richard II (r. 1377-99). The royal hawks were kept at the King’s Mews from 1377, where the birds were confined at moulting time; mew meaning moulting. Up until the reign of Henry VII (r. 1485-1509) the Mews was at Charing Cross, at the western end of the Strand where today the National Gallery stands. The building was destroyed by fire in 1534 and rebuilt as stables, keeping the name “Mews” when it acquired this new function.
So, after this little history lesson, here are some of my favourite photos I took of the iconic London Mews.
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Categories: London | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “The Mews of London

  1. Love the cobblestone streets…..interesting reading the history of the Mews. Glad to see your blog active again : )

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  2. I really enjoyed the history lesson and your photographs of these lovely buildings and laneways are delightful.

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  3. Sonia from Eastenders used to live in a mew house. I wouldn’t mind either X

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