In a city like London it’s perfectly acceptable to be a bit nosey. Don’t you think? We can explore its famous landmarks and, for the extra nosey like me, poke our head into its hidden secrets. Those quiet corners amongst a big and bustling city are incredibly enticing, even more so than the city’s most infamous sites. I’ve recently discovered that those hidden little streets, quaintly named mews, hold more about London’s history behind their pretty exteriors than I ever really realised.
Last Friday, I’d taken a day off work so I had a little wander around the V&A, but as I was trying to avoid spending money I found myself at a loss with what to do for the rest of the day. I remembered this Instagram from A Lady in London so I thought I’d take a look at the mews right behind the museum. Then I started wondering what other mews might be like and what I might find out about them if I found a few more. With my camera in hand, I set off on a little tour of West London.
Before we start exploring – did you know that the original purpose of the mews, built in the 17th and 18th Century, was to provide stabling for the coaches and horses and servants’ quarters for the wealthy homes of London? It explains a lot about their style and their locations!
Now you know this, let’s get exploring. I started at Princes Gate Mews (the one just behind the V&A Museum).
Three tiny cobbled streets lined with colourful houses.
I love how much the each house seems to work within the street’s colour palette.
Mews started to be converted to from its stable structure to complete homes in the 50s and became popular with artists and writers, mainly because they were cheap (!!). The fact that you’ll find a lot of mews are so much more colourful than the surrounding regency homes seems to hint at this part of its past.
These days tenants also seem to use their front door to add their own personality and originality in the street.
In the 1960s they became popular film locations and then celebrities and the wealthy started to move in, explaining why they’re so much more expensive to buy now! But if do you want to know what’s behind those doors you can stay in one for a few nights for less than the cost of paying monthly rent via Airbnb. How luxurious does this flat look?
I resisted temptation to get up close and have a nose through the windows and moved on to Queens Gate Palace Mews.
Have you ever seen such a grand entrance to a street? A hint of the wealthy who built them and apt for the wealthy who live there now.
I didn’t take a look down the street as there seemed to be a lot of work being done. Instead I moved on to Elvaston Mews.
One of the few mews left that still had stables for horses in 21st century, the remaining few stables were converted in 2009.
You’ll find a variety of homes here.
I found one of the first mews shops on my tour – Noble Macmillan.
And a pretty pink vintage car too. (Can anyone tell me what this car is? I’ve seen so many of them around London!)
Once I’d stopped day dreaming about driving around in a colourful car and parking up outside a picturesque home in Kensington I moved on to Petersham Mews.
I mentioned that mews are popular with the well-known and wealthy, but you’ll also find celebrated individuals and their blue plaques too.
Sir Douglas Bader was a hero of the World War II. He lost both his legs in a flying accident in 1931, and spent many years raising money for disabled people, working to change attitudes towards amputees. Sir Richard Branson unveiled his blue plaque on Petersham Mews in 2009.
Cornwall Mews South was next.
A little more unkept than some of the other mews seen so far, but equally quaint to the name that stands at its entrance.
The connecting mews over the road took looked like its more tidy older sister.
One of the best things about exploring West London in spring is all the blossom you’ll find along the way.
Oh and the intriguing private gardens with ornate fences to peer through.
After being distracted by the beauty of spring, I went on to Kynance Mews…
The name “Kynance” has Cornish associations: Kynance Cove near Lizard Point. I think you could possibly place this home in a lovely little village.
I’d love to see this house when covered in wisteria, like this picture.
I wanted to end up in Notting Hill so I headed to Albert Mews, the first of three mews where I think you can really see its equestrian past.
The second, Canning Place Mews.
And the last – De Vere Mews. Slightly different to the other mews seen so far, enclosed around a peaceful courtyard rather than a cobbled street.
I finished my exploring at Pembridge Mews in Notting Hill.
It’s amazing how quickly it feels much quieter when you step away from the city madness into these hidden streets. And I had one final reminder of how happy and colourful they seem.
I love these colours and I was left wondering what colours I’d paint my mews home, if I were ever to own one.
A great day exploring London’s hidden secrets. It’s amazing how much you can find and learn when you start walking and stop spending!
Do you enjoy exploring the mews of London? Have you found a favourite?
I hope you have a great Good Friday and enjoy the Easter weekend!