This is a secluded mews that can be found around the back of a disused tube station near Hyde Park.

Unusually for a Mews, this one is not Georgian stables that were later turned into housing. In fact, the mews is relatively modern, although it was partially some stables. Originally, when the area was developed, the mews was the back gardens of the grand houses that face Piccadilly, and Down Street had smaller houses running along it.

R Horwood Map 1792

Down Street Mews seems to have been built at the end of the 19th century when the grand buildings fronting Piccadilly were redeveloped, and they added the rear entrance for staff and deliveries, with some stabling mews offered. The main change though occurred in the early 1900s, when Down Street tube station was built and it was the tube station that gave the mews its distinctive oxblood tiled archway entrance.

The rear of the mews is a new building, a residential development that replaced a former staff accommodation linked to the back of the Cavalry and Guards Club building that faces onto Piccadilly.

Although technically a separate address, as the old building here had an internal link to the clubhouse building on Piccadilly, there was a bit of a disagreement as to whether the heritage listing of the posh clubhouse included the slightly shabby staff building. In the end, they decided it didn’t – so the current glassy block could be erected instead.

The garage is interesting – if you’re interested in such things – as it’s actually a lift, and lowers cars down to a basement that can hold four cars.

Also interesting is the many reports that the location of the new building is a former black brick Edwardian mansion and stables, later occupied by Count Dino Grandi, the Italian Ambassador, where he held socially well-connected parties. It’s also said that his house was destroyed during WW2.

There’s a really big problem with this oft-repeated tale — there wasn’t a mansion in the mews, and it’s highly unlikely that an Ambassador would live in a back-alley.

My best guess, and it’s proven frustratingly difficult to research is that the Count lived in one of the grander houses facing Piccadilly, and had access to the stables in the mews. There are a number of houses sold along Piccadilly in the decades around this time with stabling access included in the sale.

If I were to stick my neck out a bit, based on what was sold and when, maybe the Count lived at 134 Piccadilly, which was the last remaining private home in this patch of Piccadilly at the time, and it was indeed badly damaged during WW2.

Today it’s the Hard Rock Cafe shop.

Back into the mews though, something else that’s also new here is the green-tiled staircase that was added just a few years ago as part of a redevelopment of the rear building into offices. The green tiles do have a slightly Leslie Green air to them, although that may have been just a coincidence.

The tarmac road has been given a bit of a makeover as well.

A decade ago, this was very much a slightly shabby back alley, but today it’s a courtyard for one of London’s most expensive houses and offices. And how lucky they are that there’s a local newsagent in the front of the former tube station if they run out of milk.


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One comment
  1. Richard Pinch says:

    The Italian embassy was in Grosvenor Square at the time that Count Grandi was ambassador: it moved from 20 Grosvenor Square to 4 Grosvenor Square in 1931. Chips Channon in his Diary relates that Grandi lived “almost next door” to Lady Cunard at number 7.

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