What is a Mews House?

Posted April 15, 2024
What is a Mews House?

A mews house was originally built as a stable or carriage house in an alley or courtyard behind larger city houses. Historically, these buildings housed horses and carriages.

Over the years, they have been converted into homes. Now, mews houses are popular for their unique design, historical charm, and often prestigious locations.

They are small, well-designed homes that mix traditional and modern elements. You can mostly find them in UK cities like central London.

Where did the term “mews” originate?

The term “mews” originates from the Royal Hawks kept at the King’s Mews near Charing Cross in London during the 13th century. Initially, this site housed royal hawks, with ‘mewing’ in falconry, meaning the shedding of feathers by hawks.

In the 16th century, Henry VIII transformed it into stables for horses, changing its primary use. The word ‘mews’ then began to refer to rows or streets of houses built on former stable and carriage house sites, maintaining a historical connection to their origins in falconry and horse stabling.

Today, ‘mews’ denotes quaint and often historic residential areas originally used for equine purposes.

What is the history of a mews house?

Mews houses date back to the 18th and 19th centuries when they served as stables with servants’ quarters above them. They were essential parts of wealthy urban homes.

As time passed and cars replaced carriages, these buildings turned into residential properties.

What does a mews street look like?

When picturing a mews street, think of cobbled paths and tightly packed brick or stucco houses with two or three storeys.

Mews streets are usually hidden from the main roads, creating a cosy and secluded atmosphere usually away from the hustle and bustle of high streets.

Their visual appeal is enhanced by details such as potted plants and ivy climbing the walls, making mews streets desirable and scenic locations in valuable urban areas.

An example of a how a mews street might look with a cobble stoned road

What makes them unique?

Today’s mews houses stand out because of their architectural style. They often keep original features such as stable doors and cobbled streets, which add to their historic appeal.

Their layout is compact yet functional across several floors—ideal for modern city living while offering privacy away from busy streets.

These homes are typically in prestigious areas but tucked away from main roads, providing a quiet spot within vibrant city settings.

Modern renovations respect their historic value by blending contemporary design with old architectural details.

Owning a mews house means having both luxury and history combined with modern conveniences.

Where can you find mews properties in London?

You’ll find most of these quaint properties in upscale neighbourhoods like Kensington & Chelsea, Notting Hill, Belgravia, Marylebone and Paddington.

Typically, areas boast a rich architectural heritage, with many former stables transformed into attractive residences.

Mews in Kinsington An example of mews style properties in Kensington, London

Mews House vs Coach House

The key differences between a coach house and a mews house are their history, design, and layout.

The purpose of building coach houses was to store horse-drawn carriages. Many people have converted these coach houses into homes, often adding garages on the ground floor as a nod to their historical use. These houses can be detached or semi-detached, providing a more private living environment.

Mews houses started as stables with servants’ quarters above them around courtyards. Today, these houses have a prized historical allure and are typically found in terraced rows. This arrangement offers a distinctive blend of community feel and privacy in an urban setting.

While both property types carry historic significance and have been updated for modern use, coach houses stand out because of their separate structure and potential for garage space. Mews houses are cherished for their picturesque row formations and shared courtyard areas.