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A mews is a row or courtyard of stables and carriage houses with living quarters above them, built behind large city houses before motor vehicles replaced horses in the early twentieth century. Mews are usually located in desirable residential areas, having been built to cater for the horses, coachmen and stable-servants of prosperous residents.
The word mews comes from the Royal Mews in London, England, a set of royal stables built 500 years ago on a former royal hawk mews. The term is now commonly used in English-speaking countries for city housing of a similar design.
After the advent of World War Two, mews were replaced by alleys and the carriage houses by garages for automobiles.
Mews derives from the French muer, 'to moult', reflecting its original function to confine hawks while they moulted.  Shakespeare deploys to mew up to mean confine, coop up, or shut up in The Taming of the Shrew: "What, will you mew her up, Signor Baptista?"   and also Richard III: "This day should Clarence closely be mewed up". 
The term mews is still used today in falconry circles in English-speaking countries to refer to the housing of the birds of prey used in falconry.
From 1377 onwards the king's falconry birds were kept in the King's Mews at Charing Cross.
The first recorded use meaning stables is dated 1548, after the royal stables were built at Charing Cross, on the site of the royal hawk mews.  Those royal stables moved to Buckingham Palace Road in 1820. There were also royal mews at St James's Palace.
The name mews was taken up for domestic stables in the city during the 17th century.  The 18th-century Washington Mews in Greenwich Village, New York City matches the London buildings in period, purpose and name.
"Mews" has since been applied to any stable buildings in any space, lane, alley or back street onto which these buildings open,  and to any new residential buildings of similar character throughout the English-speaking world that have motor vehicles taking the place of horses and carriages.
Mews was applied to service streets and the stables in them in cities, primarily London. 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' living accommodation above. Generally this was mirrored by another row of stables on the opposite side of the service street, backing onto another row of terraced houses facing outward into the next street. Sometimes there were variations such as small courtyards. 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 are often found in the boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster (particularly Mayfair and Marylebone).
This arrangement was different from most of Continental Europe, where the stables in wealthy urban residences were usually off a front or central courtyard. The advantage of the British system was that it hid the sounds and smells of the stables away from the family when they were not using the horses. Nevertheless 45 of the buildings in Kerkstraatin Amsterdam were originally the stables and coach houses of houses in Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht, between which it runs.
Mews are not used for large individual non-royal British stable blocks, a feature of country houses. For example, the grand stable block at Chatsworth House is referred to as the stables, not the mews.
Mews lost their equestrian function in the early 20th century when motor cars were introduced. At the same time, after World War I and especially after World War II, the number of people who could afford to live in the type of houses which had a mews attached fell sharply.[ citation needed ] One place where a mews may still be in equestrian use is Bathurst Mews in Westminster, near Hyde Park, London, where several private horses are kept. Nearby, the mews' stables have been put to commercial use. Some mews were demolished or put to commercial use, but the majority were converted into homes.
Contemporary movements to revitalise and creatively re-use historical and traditional features of urban environments have also cast some appreciative light on mews. A contemporary presentation of the some 500 former horse stables in the city of London appears in the book The Mews of London: A Guide to the Hidden Byways of London's Past. 
In 2015 a survey of the mews in London estimated that there were 391 original and surviving mews properties still in existence, and 239 which had been redeveloped.  The survey classified an "Authentic Mews" property as "A property in a Mews – a lane, alley, court, narrow passage, cul de sac or back street originally built behind houses in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries to provide access for stables or coach house accommodation (often with associated living accommodation) – that is now most likely to be a modernised residential dwelling, possibly with commercial premises. An Authentic Mews property will still retain the approximate appearance, form and footprint of the original Mews but it may have been re-developed to a degree and no longer retains all original Mews features." 
The use of mews in new urban development is advocated by Leon Krier, who is himself a strong influence on the New Urbanism movement in the United States.  (For his foundational contributions to the movement, Krier received the first Athena Medal awarded by the Congress for the New Urbanism in 2006.) 
In the Smart Growth, Traditional Neighborhood Development and New Urbanism movements, the term is used frequently, but definitions of the term are rare. The East Village Redevelopment Plan for Calgary, Alberta, Canada, explains that "Mews are narrow, intimate streets that balance the access and service functions of a lane with active building frontages, accessory uses, and a street space shared by cars and pedestrians."  
A carriage is a private four-wheeled vehicle for people and is most commonly horse-drawn. Second-hand private carriages were common public transport, the equivalent of modern cars used as taxis. Carriage suspensions are by leather strapping and, on those made in recent centuries, steel springs. Two-wheeled carriages are informal and usually owner-driven.
An alley or alleyway is a narrow lane, path, or passageway, often reserved for pedestrians, which usually runs between, behind, or within buildings in the older parts of towns and cities. It is also a rear access or service road, or a path, walk, or avenue in a park or garden.
Belgravia is a district in Central London, covering parts of the areas of both the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Farringdon is a small district in Central London, the southern part of the London Borough of Islington. The term is used to describe the area around Farringdon station. Historically the district corresponded to southern Clerkenwell and the small parish of St Sepulchre Middlesex.
The Royal Mews is a mews, or collection of equestrian stables, of the British royal family. In London these stables and stable-hands' quarters have occupied two main sites in turn, being located at first on the north side of Charing Cross, and then within the grounds of Buckingham Palace.
The Angel, Islington, is a historic landmark and a series of buildings that have stood on the corner of Islington High Street and Pentonville Road in Islington, London, England. The land originally belonged to the Clerkenwell Priory and has had various properties built on it since the 16th century. An inn on the site was called the "Angel Inn" by 1614, and the crossing became generally known as "the Angel". The site was bisected by the New Road, which opened in 1756, and properties on the site have been rebuilt several times up to the 20th century. The corner site gave its name to Angel tube station, opened in 1901, and the surrounding Angel area of London.
Léon Krier CVO is a Luxembourgish architect, architectural theorist, and urban planner, a prominent critic of modernist architecture and advocate of New Classical architecture and New Urbanism. Krier combines an international architecture and planning practice with writing and teaching. He is well-known for his master plan for Poundbury, in Dorset, England. He is the younger brother of architect Rob Krier.
A cour d'honneur is the principal and formal approach and forecourt of a large building. It is usually defined by two secondary wings projecting forward from the main central block, sometimes with a fourth side, consisting of a low wing or a railing. The Palace of Versailles (illustration) and Blenheim Palace (plan) both feature such entrance courts.
Washington Mews is a private gated street in New York City between Fifth Avenue and University Place just north of Washington Square Park. Along with MacDougal Alley and Stuyvesant Street, it was originally part of a Lenape trail which connected the Hudson and East Rivers, and was first developed as a mews that serviced horses from homes in the area. Since the 1950s the former stables have served as housing, offices and other facilities for New York University.
Gabriele Tagliaventi is an Italian architect and a figure of the movement for the European Urban Renaissance and the New Urbanism in Europe.
A coach is a large, closed, four-wheeled, passenger-carrying vehicle or carriage usually drawn by two or more horses controlled by a coachman, a postilion, or both. A coach has doors in its sides and a front and a back seat inside. The driver has a raised seat in front of the carriage to allow better vision. It is often called a box, box seat, or coach box. There are many of types of coaches depending on the vehicle's purpose.
Great Scotland Yard is a street in Westminster, London, connecting Northumberland Avenue and Whitehall. By the 16th century, this 'yard', which was then an open space for the Palace of Whitehall, was fronted by buildings used by diplomatic representatives of the Kingdom of Scotland. In the 19th century, it was a street and open space, which was the location of a public entrance to the original headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service of London, causing the name "Scotland Yard" to become synonymous with the police service.
The Royal Stables is the mews of the Danish Monarchy which provides the ceremonial transport for the Danish Royal Family during state events and festive occasions. The Royal Stables are located at Christiansborg Palace on the island of Slotsholmen in central Copenhagen, Denmark. In 1789, the number of horses reached a peak with 270 horses stabled. Nowadays, there are about 20 horses in the Royal Stables.
White Horse Close, or "Whitehorse Close", is an enclosed courtyard off the Canongate at the foot of the Royal Mile at the eastern end of the Old Town of Edinburgh, Scotland.
The Sniffen Court Historic District is a small close-ended mews, running perpendicularly southwest from East 36th Street, between Third and Lexington Avenues in the Murray Hill neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. The district, one of the smallest in New York City, encompasses the entire alley, which consists of 10 two-story brick stables built in 1863-1864 in the early Romanesque Revival style. The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated Sniffen Court as a city historic district on June 21, 1966, and the district was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 28, 1973.
Devonshire Close, originally known as Devonshire Mews East, is a mews street in the City of Westminster, London, accessed from Devonshire Street. The Close is on a distinctive H plan with a middle downwards leg. It dates from the 1770s and originally contained a timber yard, stables, and accommodation for domestic servants who worked in the larger houses surrounding it. Access was limited to the north side in order to divert traffic from the grander north–south streets around it. The Close was gentrified in the 20th century and its buildings converted to mews houses which, like other mews in London, have become desirable in the modern era because they are quiet and have little traffic. The Close is now part of the Howard de Walden Estate.
The Royal Stables is the mews of the Swedish Monarchy which provides both the ceremonial transport for the Swedish Royal Family during state events and festive occasions and their everyday transportation capacity. The Royal Stables date from 1535, and were originally built on Helgeandsholmen, close to Stockholm Palace. The Royal Stables are today located just behind Strandvägen in Östermalm in central Stockholm, Sweden. The head of the Royal Stables is the Crown Equerry.
Motcomb Street is a street in the City of Westminster's Belgravia district in London. It is known for its luxury fashion shops, such as Christian Louboutin shoes, Stewart Parvin gowns, and the jeweller Carolina Bucci, and was the location of the original Pantechnicon department store.
Cadogan Lane, originally Little Cadogan Place, is a street in London's Belgravia which runs between Pont Street in the north, and a junction with Cadogan Place and D'Oyley Street in the south. It is one of the streets in the area named after the Earls of Cadogan that began to be developed in 1777. The lane was laid-out by 1799 but had few buildings until the twentieth century. Today it is mostly made up of small mews houses which back onto the larger houses in Cadogan Place, and Chesham Place and Chesham Street, between which Cadogan Lane runs.
The Royal Stables is a collection of equestrian stables of the Dutch Royal Family, the House of Orange-Nassau. It is a Rijksmonumental building that is part of the royal Palace grounds located in the city center of The Hague in the Netherlands. The Noordeinde Palace and the Palace Gardens are also part of this same palace complex. The Noordeinde Palace and its grounds are the official workplace of the Dutch King Willem-Alexander.