Mews properties have an undeniable simplicity which provides a surprising contrast to other buildings in close proximity.
Many Mews now encompass a wide range of architectural styles. They are a key element in the history and development of an area, and important in terms of their layout, appearance and the use of the properties.
Although the elevations are simple in appearance, there are a variety of styles of Mews, and many have been substantially altered. Their facades have been changed, as has their usage. Unfortunately many have lost their heritage significance and can no longer be considered authentic.
An Authentic Mews has an equine heritage and should not be confused with other buildings of a similar age which were built for different purposes, i.e. a converted 19th-century warehouse building which might also retain the original loading bays and hoists.
Old functional warehouse buildings tended to be located in secondary or other side streets, but are not to be confused with Mews properties, as warehouses have no equine heritage.
The narrowness of the Mews often contrasts the wide roads that surround them. Mews roads originally serviced the main properties they were connected to. The mews are generally not accessed from the principal roads but from secondary roads or through gaps between buildings. The rear elevations of the larger scale buildings often dominate the smaller mews properties. Mews fill the available space and are shaped in accordance with the landownership within the block.
The principal feature of a traditional mews property is its small scale; the buildings are typically low rise and generally respect the width of the principal building to which they were associated. The mews houses front directly onto the street and originally never contained basements. The traditional mews house is a modest two storey building in yellow stock brick, with small openings at first floor level, over larger openings at ground floor. They have flat fronts and strong parapet lines which give the Mews a high degree of enclosure as well as a level of privacy.
The ground floor openings originally featured timber carriage doors with long cast iron strap hinges; many, of course, still do.
Many of the buildings have more recently been painted or have been rendered. Mews buildings normally have cast iron rainwater goods, small timber sash windows and may incorporate other features such as exterior staircases, winches or other ironmongery, or first floor winch doors.
Some, but not all, Mews are distinguished by arched entrances or entrances under adjoining buildings.
Mews are traditionally surfaced with hard wearing granite stone setts that wear smooth with use. They either fall to a central gully for drainage or are cambered with gullies at the sides of the street, known as runnels.
For a full glossary on Mews properties see below: