Walking in Kensington, Chelsea, Mayfair, the richest quarters of London, sometimes it is a real surprise, you can find yourself in some little streets that look like british villages instead of the huge international city which is London.
This is also due to the so called mews, ex horse stalls converted in pretty houses of 2-3 floors.
In the 18th and 19th centuries London housing for wealthy people generally consisted of streets of large terraced houses with stables at the back, which opened onto a small service street. The mews had horse stalls and a carriage house on the ground floor and stable servants accomodation above.
Sometimes there were variations such as small courtyards.
Today in London most mews are named after one of the principal streets which they back onto.
Most but not all have the word "mews" in their name.
Mews lost their original functions in the early 20th century when motorcars were introduced and when after the World War I and II most people could not afford anymore to live in a house with a mews attached.
The majority of mews were converted into homes and are today fashionable residences, many are sold for a million pounds and upwards.
There are a lot of mews in the area of Belgravia (Knightbridge), in Mayfair,in Pimlico, Notting Hill, Chelsea and in Bloomsbury.
Mews is today synonymous of very trendy and "very London" and represents an archetypal contemporary central London streets.
The anonymity of the city has been a theme for many books and writers and it is a great pleasure of cities, the ability to lose oneself in a crowd, in a street.
More about Architecture