Good mews for you
From humble origins, these former servants’ quarters have become truly sought after
Mews houses have an air of romance. Certainly they have come up in the world from their humble beginnings. They were originally built in the 17th and 18th centuries by grand homeowners wanting to house their servants nearby.
Located off paved courtyards, they had stables or coach houses on the ground floors and living spaces above. The term ‘mews’ came from London’s royal stables where the king’s hawks were ‘mewed’ (confined).
By the mid-20th century they had largely fallen out of favour. The sixties saw a revival in their fortunes — and their value. The centrally located houses — the borough of Kensington & Chelsea is a stronghold — became popular with actors, musicians and artists.
sir Michael Caine lived in Albion Close, west London, during the sixties. sculptor Jacob epstein used one as his studio in Queens Gate Mews, south of Hyde Park. And they are still as popular now.
Bath is the location of a fine example of the period, Rivers street Mews. Built in 1789, the six houses that comprise the mews have been restored and converted. Rupert embleton-smith, of selling agents LREA, says: ‘Rivers street Mews has been popular because of its central location (just round the corner from the Royal Crescent and a short walk from the city centre) and because of its selfcontained, secure layout with designated parking.
‘The houses were created from an 18th-century stable yard and suit a wide range of buyers from single professionals to retired couples.’ Number 5 Rivers street Mews, which is the only unsold mews house, comprises a large sitting room, master bedroom with ensuite bathroom, second bedroom, further shower room and secure parking.
The price is £675,000 (020 8012 0722, londonrea.com). Chris Knowles, of Fine & Country estate Agents, is selling a threebedroom mews house, which forms part of a Victorian school, priced £635,000, at Old school Mews, Chipstead, surrey (020 8660 6689, fineandcountry.com).
He says: ‘ Mews properties in this semi-rural location are popular with downsizers and retirees. This property features beautiful communal gardens and allows any owner to go on holiday without being worried about security.’ Modern mews homes are popular too.
Andrew Loveday, of Countryside says: ‘ The refurbished apartments at stonechat Mews, situated in the grounds of the renovated former stone House Hospital, near Dartford in Kent, have proven popular with first time buyers, downsizers and investors alike.’
From £340,000 with Countryside Properties ( 01277 690611, countryside-properties.com).
In London, individual mews have become synonymous with certain arts, trades and hobbies. Queens Gate Place Mews, sw7, accessed at one end through an impressive arch, became associated with classic cars. Anthony Pears, of specialist mews agency Lurot Brand, says: ‘Queens Gate Place Mews is one of the widest, so classic car owners have room to drive and park their vehicles.’
In the Nineties, Jeremy Agace, a racer of historic cars, bought 22 Queens Gate Place Mews, a few doors down from Fiskens, the classic car specialists.
HIs son James Agace, an entrepreneur, last year completely renovated it to create a handsome four-storey residence. Lurot Brand is selling it for £7.495 million (020 7590 9955, lurotbrand.co.uk).
Agace says: ‘Original mews houses are deceptive — like a Tardis — often with a narrow frontage.’
Giles Cook, director at London estate agency W.A. Ellis, said: ‘One of the many attractions of a mews house is that it often provides garage space.
‘The possibility to redevelop and extend the living space by excavating a basement is also a big draw, which will inevitably increase the property’s value.’
Traditionally, what they don’t have is much light. To protect their privacy, the owners of the grand houses who had them built did so without windows to the rear. so they can be dark.
Agace recognised the shortcoming and redeveloped 22 Queens Gate Place Mews to incorporate several sources of light — natural, illuminated, reflected and simulated. Also in London is a contemporary twobedroom mews house, priced £950,0000 with Haus Properties ( 020 8912 4000, hausproperties.co. uk) in wendell Mews, Askew Village w12. Lewis Pugh, of Haus Properties’ shepherd’s Bush office, says: ‘ People are drawn to mews houses because of their charm, individuality and cottage-like appeal. ‘Properties such as wendell Mews are relatively scarce and usually offer more privacy and security than traditional townhouses. This is ideal for those who may not spend large amounts of time in London or for those who just want a bit more security.’