One of London’s most cherished and historic property types - the mews house - is enjoying a revival as architects and developers create spacious new homes in hidden corners of central London. Meanwhile, contemporary makeovers of existing mews homes are transforming what were once modest quarters for coachmen and servants into homes that are the height of backstreet chic.
A recent survey confirmed the enduring appeal of these once-humble streets when buyers declared that the word "Mews" in an address ranked more highly than any other housing type, beating street names such as Gardens and Green, Circus, Rise or Row. Mews offer a taste of village life - a haven amid the urban hustle and bustle. London has about 10,000 traditional mews houses, many with a colourful history, and now developers are adding new ones as planners demand more family homes on recycled pockets of inner-city land.
Dramatic design improvements can transform the dark, low-ceiling interiors of a traditional mews house. Similarly, the crop of new mews homes have light-filled, double-height open-plan spaces, and sometimes a roof garden or glass-walled inner courtyard.
A rare chance to create a terrific one-off home exists at cobbled Hallam Mews, Marylebone, where an incongruous mock-Tudor infill property, dating from the Thirties, has planning consent for redevelopment into a striking modern house with swimming pool, cinema, gym, four bedrooms, lift and private parking. Unusually large - about 6,000sq ft - the price is £4.95 million. Call estate agent Druce on 020 7935 6535.
Dukes Mews, moments from Selfridges, is where Marylebone meets Mayfair. Here, a pair of new-builds have sleek, minimalist interiors and decked roof terraces. Each is priced at £3.5 million. Call 020 7580 1010.
"Mews houses have a charismatic quality that apartments don’t always provide," says Laurence Glynne of estate agent LDG. "And supply is limited, meaning they are a good investment."
Mews homes make compelling redevelopment opportunities because, as functional dwellings, they are rarely listed (meaning owners can gut the interior) yet most sit in highly regulated conservation areas. A classic-looking rebuilt mews house of 2,414sq ft at Pont Street Mews, Knightsbridge, is for sale at £5.45 million through Savills. Call 020 7581 5234. A three-bedroom house with garage in pretty Northwick Mews, St John’s Wood, has planning permission to create a basement. Price £1.25 million. Call Cluttons on 020 7586 5863.
Seven new-build mews houses alongside pretty Crabtree Fields in Fitzrovia have modern open-plan interiors, each featuring a "sculptural" twisting staircase made of glass and polished concrete. Prices from £2.99 million. Call EA Shaw on 020 7240 2255. Parsons Gate Mews is a scheme of eight new houses on popular Peterborough Estate in Fulham, each with a garage or off-street parking. Prices from £1.47 million. Call Chesterton Humberts on 020 7288 8303.
Beechmore Mews, bordering Battersea Park, comprises four new houses with traditional-looking façades behind which are contemporary-design open-plan interiors and split-level gardens. Ranging up to 2,400sq ft in size, including garage, prices start at £1.49 million. Call Douglas & Gordon on 020 7720 8077.
Cheaper mews homes can be found in outer north London and south of the river, on the site of old workshops or garage blocks. Harrington Mews in Tooting has 19 new three-storey houses with conservatories. Prices from £395,000. Call Linden Homes on 020 8672 6171.
Three new detached homes at Essex Mews, Crystal Palace, by RIBA award-winning developer Solidspace are available to buy off-plan. They have 1,300sq ft of flowing space and feature mezzanine areas and sunken living rooms that open out to the rear garden. Prices from £575,000. Contact estate agent New London on 0845 6431503.
New mews-style townhouses are part of the mix at Queen Mary’s Place, Roehampton, a gated 14-acre estate with listed walled gardens and a prized 18th-century mansion soon to be split into grand apartments. They have four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a large open-plan kitchen/family space on the ground floor, plus upper-floor lounge and balcony, a garden and off-street parking. Prices from £684,950. Call St James on 020 8246 6748.
The development is proving popular with couples trading up from apartments in Wandsworth, Clapham and Putney because of the patter of tiny feet. Mark and Sally Hutt bought a terraced mews house and plan to put down roots following the arrival of twin boys, Alex and Leo, last February.
"We have lots of space so there will be no pressure to move. Really we have the best of both worlds, close enough to central London and near the wide open green spaces of Richmond Park," says Mark, who works in finance in the City.
While much of the history of London’s built environment has focused on the grandest houses, mews show a more colourful side. They first became fashionable during the Swinging Sixties when an offbeat crowd of actors, celebrities, playboys and debs spotted them as glamorous hideaways, and film-makers started to use them for movie locations (Michael Caine’s Charlie Croker in The Italian Job lived in one - as did Caine himself in real life).
The 1963 Profumo affair added a sex scandal and politics to the allure when it became known that Christine Keeler slept with the minister for war at 17 Wimpole Mews. Soon mews homes were being snapped up by artists (Francis Bacon among them) and architects who converted the garages into studios. Modern mews dwellers include Lulu, Guy Ritchie and Rowan Atkinson.
Estate agency Lurot Brand is the acknowledged expert on London mews properties and claims to sell about half the mews homes in central London.
Forty years ago, founder Antoine Lurot set about cataloguing every mews in the capital, riding around on a motorbike like a trainee taxi driver. Visit lurotbrand.co.uk or call 020 7479 1999.