Notebook:

The London Mews House

22/12/11

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Builders will soon finish refurbishing two mews houses, 85 and 87 Pavilion Road, Chelsea. Pavilion Road is typical of the many hundreds of mews streets in central London and no.s 85 and 87 are like many properties found on those streets. With their intimate scale and historic charm mews streets have become popular places to live and are often part of a conservation area. The development of this road began in 1788 when plots for houses were laid out on the west side of Sloane Street, in what was then called Hans Town. First recorded as New Road the name changed following the construction of Henry Holland’s nearby house, The Pavilion, in 1789.

‘Beside the snug houses occupied by the wealthy in this fashionable quarter, there were mews, and small dark streets of small smelly houses, in which dwelt the industrious poor who ministered to their rich neighbours, in the shape of small tradesmen, workmen and workwomen, laundresses etc., as well as stables for horses, and dwelling for coachmen’. Donald J. Olsen, The growth of Victorian London

The origin of mews is far removed from this description of Victorian London, or the stylish modern mews house, but begins in the royal court. The word mews derives from the word ‘mewed’ meaning to moult. Mews originally described a cage for birds of prey birds like hawks used during their moulting season. These cages could be quite large and permanent structures.

From the 14th century hawks were kept by kings of England at Charing Cross. Following a fire in the 16th century Henry VIII built stables on the site retaining the name, The Mews, of the former building. With this royal connection it became fashionable for stable houses attached to grand town houses to be termed mews.

The use of mews as stables declined as the popularity and affordability of the cars increased. Many were converted into garages and workshops or simply used for storage. With the passing of The Small Holdings and Allotments Act in 1908 it became difficult to buy land for new development; as a result mews were converted for residential use. The first recorded residential conversion was undertaken in 1908 at Street Mews, in Mayfair, London. A 1915 publication described it as ‘the best bijou house in London’. A new housing trend was born leaving few mews properties untouched. There are still three working mews stables left in London: Buthurst Mews, Elvaston Mews and The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, where Queen keeps her gold state coach and carriage horses.

 

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If you would like to see how we can transform your mews house please visit this link:  https://www.lelay.co.uk/our-projects/mews-houses-knightsbridge/