The King’s Mews, London, 1750
Scanned from ‘Old and New London – Its History, its people and its places’, published by Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co. 1878.
The first set of stables to be referred to as a mews was at Charing Cross at the western end of The Strand. The royal hawks were kept at this site from 1377 and the name derives from the fact that they were confined there at moulting (or “mew”) time.
The building was destroyed by fire in 1534 and rebuilt as a stables, keeping its former name when it acquired this new function. On old maps of Westminster, such as those by Ralph Agas (also known as Aggas), the Mews can be seen extending back onto the site of today’s Leicester Square.
This building was usually known as the King’s Mews, but was also sometimes referred to as the Royal Mews, the Royal Stables, or as the Queen’s Mews when there was a woman on the throne. It was rebuilt again in 1732 to the designs of William Kent, and in the early 19th century it was open to the public. It was an impressive classical building, and there was an open space in front of it which ranked among the larger ones in central London at a time when the Royal Parks were on the fringes of the city and the gardens of London’s squares were open only to the residents of the surrounding houses.