This delightfully unmodernised mews, owned by the Church of England is just to the north of Hyde Park and is one of the last such mews left in London.
The mews sits in a part of London known as the Hyde Park Estate, and it’s a large swathe of land owned by the Church Commissioners for England, the property arm of the Church of England.
Based on a Georgian model grid pattern, the Hyde Park Estate was initially developed in the 19th-century. It originally belonged to the Bishop of London before being transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners (who later became the Church Commissioners) in 1836.
As part of the original development of the area, Portsea Mews was built in 1824 to serve the grand houses of nearby Connaught Square to provide stabling for their horses and carriages. Originally though it was called Fredrick Mews, and seemed to change the name in the 1930s.
As with all the mews, the horses later left to be replaced with the motor car, but here the mews took a slightly different turn of fate, as while most mews were then repurposed into posh flats, that never happened to Portsea Mews.
Between 1954 and 2018, the ground floor of the entire mews was used by the family-run business, Handman & Collis, and was said to have been central London’s oldest car repair garage.
The rooms in the upper floors were converted into flats, but looking at some old lettings adverts, they were pretty shabby, and considering they’re above a car repair shop, with the noise and smells that results in, probably not a surprise that they were cheap(ish) flats.
Handman & Collis moved out on 2nd April 2018, and the flat rentals were also slowly cleared, so the mews is currently entirely vacant.
There is now a plan to modernise the mews, and while it won’t be light industry, it won’t be a cluster of posh flats either – the Church Commissioners plan to convert the mews into an estate of small offices. The plans are in consultation, but it seems likely that the mews will be sealed off from the public, with the current covered arched entrance gated. A new concierge-style entrance will be created on the opposite side of the mews, replacing the Connaught Cellars shop on Porchester Place. That gives the mews an entrance on the posher side of the block it sits within and puts office visitors on the side of the mews closest to where the cafes are.
The plans are expected to see office space for around 120 people created in the mews.
If planning permission is granted, then the construction works are expected to start in Summer 2022 — which means you have about 6-months to visit the mews in its current unmodernised state before it all changes. Once the office conversion is complete, it seems likely that the mews will become private and not open to the general public.
And finally, although Handman & Collis (which the consultation documents misspelt as Hardman & Collis) have moved out, and closed down as a business, their Instagram page is still live, and has an amazing gallery of photos that will leave many a car fan sighing in delight.