This is another of the posh mews that were once shabby stables, and it can be found just around the corner from South Kensington tube station.

Once fields, this part of London known as Old Brompton remained largely undeveloped until the arrival of a dedicated park known as Brompton Grove, and the Mews occupied the southern end of the park.

Greenwood Map 1828

By the 19th century, the area had acquired most of the appearance it has today, with a lane leading off from the main road curving northwards into a small cul-de-sac.

OS Map 1914

As with mews of the time, it was cheap housing for stable staff and the horse and carriages for the rich people living in the grand houses. The rise of the motor car saw most of the mews converted into residential homes, which is largely how the estate has remained.

One notable occupant was Mrs Charlesworth of the Women’s Volunteer Reserve, who set up a garage in 1916 in the mews to train women to pass mechanical and driving tests for ambulances and commercial vehicles.

The upper space at the entrance to the mews may have been wider in the past, as there’s a photo showing the entrance to what is today The Pelham Hotel standing out from the side of the building, which it doesn’t today.

The main non-residential occupant since 1965, at 19-23 Cromwell Mews is a religious school for French children.

It remained much the same until the mid-1980s when the end of the mews was demolished to create the raised roundabout that leads onto an extension of the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle, and the school behind it. The roundabout sits roughly where this building and the back of the playground were.

This was partly to allow for expansion, but also an opportunity to get rid of the last horses from the mews, which had tended to be rather smelly neighbours for a school.

Today it looks like a classic mews, but thanks to the knocking down of the end to make an entrance to the school, it’s a far busier mews than most.


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