This is a classic mews style alley that can be found just to the north of Oxford Street. The mews sits within an area of London known as the Portman Estate, which started being developed as housing soon after Henry William Portman inherited what was still largely open fields on the edge of London in 1761.
The area was pretty much developed into the street pattern we have today by the 1790s, and Duke’s Mews appears as a Stable Yard in R Horwood’s map of 1799.
The pub on the corner may have arrived within the next couple of decades as it’s initially shown as a house, but as a pub in 1828, and shortly afterwards it seems that the Stable Yard was formally renamed as Duke’s Mews, as it appears as such in Peter Potter’s parish map of 1832.
The mews is fronted on the south side by a pair of listed terraced townhouses built around 1776-88, when the estate was first being laid out. If they look rather excessively clean, they were renovated in 2011. Opposite is a building known as Duke’s Chambers, for the upper part, but also more commonly for the pub, the Devonshire Arms on the corner.
These front the gateway to the mews, with a charming cobbled/sett road.
Most of the buildings in the mews themselves are not originals though — 7-9 Duke’s Mews and the building situated opposite it are both mock-recreations in a late 1980s in a late 1800s style — one of those flats will set you back a cool £4 million. Number’s 1 and 3-5 Duke’s Mews were rebuilt in 2011 to a modern style and to a design by Squire and Partners.
The only original features are a short row of former stables buildings which are now garages with flats above — the essence of a mews conversion.
What’s fascinating about the alley though is that there’s a tunnel under the mews. It shows up clearly in Goad’s insurance map for the area, and there are suggestions that some of it remains in situ on a planning application for the former wine merchants which shows a basement space under the mews.
If you want a bit of politics, when you leave, cross over to the opposite side of the road from Duke’s Mews, where there is a house with a Blue Plaque on it — the revolutionary Simon Bolivar lived here for a while.
Location map and local interesting places
- 5] Wallace Collection
- 6] British Dental Museum
- 7] Handel House Museum
- 8] Anaesthesia Heritage Centre
- 9] The Photographers' Gallery
- 10] Cartoon Museum
- 11] Sherlock Holmes Museum
- 12] Royal Institution (inc Faraday Museum)
- 13] Royal College of Physicians Museum
- 14] St James's Roman Catholic Church
- 15] Tyburn Convent
- 16] All Saints, Margaret Street,
- 17] Roman Catholic Church of St Charles Borromeo
- 18] Fitzrovia Chapel
- 19] RC Church of Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregory
- 20] Water Gardens