The Royal Mews is the mews (stables and in recent times also the garage) of the British Royal Family in London. They have occupied two main sites, formerly at Charing Cross, and since the 1820s at Buckingham Palace.
The first set of stables to be referred to as a mews was at Charing Cross at the western end of The Strand. The royal hawks were kept at this site from 1377 and the name derives from the fact that they were confined there at moulting (or “mew”) time.
The building was destroyed by fire in 1534 and rebuilt as a stables, keeping its former name when it acquired this new function. On old maps of Westminster, such as those by Ralph Agas (also known as Aggas), the Mews can be seen extending back onto the site of today's Leicester Square.
This building was usually known as the King's Mews, but was also sometimes referred to as the Royal Mews, the Royal Stables, or as the Queen's Mews when there was a woman on the throne. It was rebuilt again in 1732 to the designs of William Kent, and in the early 19th century it was open to the public. It was an impressive classical building, and there was an open space in front of it which ranked among the larger ones in central London at a time when the Royal Parks were on the fringes of the city and the gardens of London's squares were open only to the residents of the surrounding houses.
The present Royal Mews is in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, to the south of Buckingham Palace Gardens, near Grosvenor Place.
In the 1760s George III moved some of his day-to-day horses and carriages to the grounds of Buckingham House, which he had acquired in 1762 for his wife's use, but the main royal stables housing the ceremonial coaches and their horses remained at the King's Mews. However when his son George IV had Buckingham Palace converted into the main royal residence in the 1820s the whole stables establishment was moved. The old Mews at Charing Cross was demolished and Trafalgar Square was built on the site. The current Royal Mews was built to designs by John Nash and were completed in 1825. They have been modified extensively since.
The Royal Mews is open to the public on certain days. The Gold State Coach and other carriages are kept there, along with about 30 horses.
There is also a Royal Mews overlooking Hampton Court Green near Hampton Court, but it is not open to the public. The old stables of St James's Palace, which stood where Lancaster House is now, were also sometime referred to as the Royal Mews.
- The Royal Residences > The Royal Mews > History. Official web site of the British Monarchy.
- Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, London. The Monarchy Today > Ceremony and symbol > Transport > Carriages.