The (Deserted) Mews of Mayfair

One of the things I like about London are what are known as Mews.  In the 18th and 19th centuries London housing for wealthy people generally consisted of streets of large terraced houses with stables at the back, which opened onto a small service street.

The mews had horse stalls and a carriage house on the ground floor, and stable servants’ living accommodation above. Generally this was mirrored by another row of stables on the opposite side of the service street, backing onto another row of terraced houses facing outward into the next street. Sometimes there were variations such as small courtyards. Most mews are named after one of the principal streets which they back onto. Most but not all have the word “mews” in their name.

I find a way to incorporate Mews into many of my tours and they are always very popular as they both make it easy to understand how life used to be but also offer a great way of showing how London famously makes use of old buildings and repurposed them.

Sometimes Mews stables are now highly desirable houses, very quiet and quaint and often devoid of cars whilst other areas have been transformed into art studios, markets, boutique shops or restaurants and cafes.

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Mayfair is such an overwhelmingly plus district of London that it is hard to imagine there narrow and atmospheric Mews but like many areas, they are present if you know where to look for them.

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In normal times this courtyard and those that can be found from the network of alleyways are hidden secrets, denied to those who go round my car or on public transport but to see everything in London you have to walk.

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These Mews are just round the corner from the Grosvenor Hotel and many other popular places and yet even by Coronavirus standards, they are deserted.

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One day life will return to normal and then these ghostly quiet streets will linger just in our memories and be another page in the epic history of London as well as being a tiny part of my Mayfair and Belgravia Walking Tour.

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
This entry was posted in Heritage, history, Life, London, Photography, Travel, Ye Olde England Tours and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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