Mews: an introduction

If you walk around London, and look beyond the main roads, you will eventually come across some of these small, attractive streets called “Mews”.

How to make a mews look good.
What a lovely place to live in the centre of the city.

The best explanation that I’ve seen of the name ‘Mews’ is on the website of the British monarchy.  The word “mews” comes from the French muer and Latin mutare, meaning “to change”.  This term was applied to the moulting of a hawk or falcon, then to the caging of the bird, and then to the building housing the king’s falcons: “The King’s Mews”.  By the 16th century, that building was being used to stable horses – but the name stuck.

The term “mews” then came to be used to describe stables owned by non-royal folk.  If you lived in a large Georgian house on an elegant street like Wimpole Street, then your animals, and the people who cared for them, might live in Wimpole Mews, Weymouth Mews or Devonshire Place Mews, set back behind the grand houses.  This would keep their noises and smells at an acceptable distance from you.

Devonshire Stables

In the 21st century, the stabling for horses has been replaced by garaging for cars.

Stables now become garages for cars
More horsepower in the Mews these days

The housing for humans has been upgraded, so that, if you have enough money, and are in the right place at the right time, you can escape from apartments/flats, and live right in the middle of London, in a house that looks like a country cottage.

Mews houses in Marylebone

Another Marylebone Mews

I’ve been walking round London snapping photos of the Mews, so there will be a couple more posts on Mews houses to follow…..

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30 Comments Add yours

    1. So expensive… I used to live in this area, and there’s nothing for under a million 😦

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      1. Expat Eye says:

        Damn – I guess it’s a flat in Germany for me then!

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        1. As long as it’s not Frankfurt or Munich… btw, have you ever thought about Eastern Germany? People over 30 barely speak English there, and it’s much cheaper to live. Just a thought…

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          1. Expat Eye says:

            I’m going to Munich in April!

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          2. Expat Eye says:

            Yep! First weekend – can’t wait! 🙂

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          3. We need to talk about this. Email me when you have a minute 😉

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          4. Expat Eye says:

            Just finishing a post! Will email in a little while 🙂

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          5. No rush, there’s a whole month still to go 😉

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          6. Expat Eye says:

            I might not make it after this one – does your human shield offer still stand?!

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          7. ONLY in a cake bombing event. If they are throwing anything else, you’re on yer todd.

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          8. Expat Eye says:

            They threw bags of shit at a gay pride parade here a few years ago…

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          9. Expat Eye says:

            Just posted – you can tell me how much trouble I’m in 😉

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      2. Karolyn Cooper says:

        Maybe we can club together and buy a mews house, as a kind of club for bloggers, and a safe house for those who get hounded out of their host countries?
        Linda, do you mean you are visiting Munich, or do you mean you are setting up Expat Eye on Munich?

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          1. Karolyn Cooper says:

            I’ve just read the Expat Pee post – and I think we may need the safe house.

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  1. tokyoaaron says:

    Interesting text and nice pics! Toronto is going through a housing (well, condo) building boom right now. Funny how many “mews” are being put up around the city! I wonder if the developers know the history behind the term…

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    1. Karolyn Cooper says:

      Thank you Aaron. I bet nobody thinks about the history – they just hope that “mews” sounds classy.

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    1. Karolyn Cooper says:

      I agree. When I go for a walk round my neighbourhood, I often choose to talk along these streets, even when I’m not taking photos.

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  2. If it’s a million rupees, I want one!

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    1. Karolyn Cooper says:

      A million rupees might buy the front door and the windows…

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  3. expatlingo says:

    I’d wondered exactly what a “mews” was for ages. Thanks!

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    1. Karolyn Cooper says:

      You’re welcome!

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  4. WhiteTrinity says:

    Thanks for sharing. Very interesting history on “mews.” I never knew where the term came from, and now I do! Haha…Lovely pics, makes me want to jump on a plane and head to London. — Mrs. J

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