Picture of Foggy Bottom Mews street signAround Brighton, there are lots of mews, or yards or streets surrounded by houses. This name has always intrigued me; I know most mews were originally built as stables, but wasn’t sure where the word was coming from. I found my answer on a page that gives a comprehensive history of how mews went from housing hawks in the 16th century to yuppies in the 21st century.
Originally, a mews was a building where hawks were kept while they moulted or mewed (comes from Latin mutare, to change). Then in 1534, the royal mews near Charing Cross, originally the home of the King’s hawks, was given over to horses. From then on, a town building where horses were kept was called mews. With the advent of the car, horses were no longer needed and mews were converted into flats or houses.
Photo courtesy of David Smallwood and taken in Washington, D.C.