If you walk around London, and look beyond the main roads, you will eventually come across some of these small, attractive streets called “Mews”.
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.
In the 21st century, the stabling for horses has been replaced by garaging for cars.
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.
I’ve been walking round London snapping photos of the Mews, so there will be a couple more posts on Mews houses to follow…..