Royal Mews
A Royal Mews is a mews
Mews is a primarily British term formerly describing a row of stables, usually with carriage houses below and living quarters above, built around a paved yard or court, or along a street, behind large city houses, such as those of London, during the 17th and 18th centuries. The word may also...

 (i.e. combined stable
A stable is a building in which livestock, especially horses, are kept. It most commonly means a building that is divided into separate stalls for individual animals...

s, carriage house
Carriage house
A carriage house, also called remise or coach house, is an outbuilding which was originally built to house horse-drawn carriages and the related tack.In Great Britain the farm building was called a Cart Shed...

 and in recent times also the garage
Garage (house)
A residential garage is part of a home, or an associated building, designed or used for storing a vehicle or vehicles. In some places the term is used synonymously with "carport", though that term normally describes a structure that is not completely enclosed.- British residential garages:Those...

) of the British Royal Family
British Royal Family
The British Royal Family is the group of close relatives of the monarch of the United Kingdom. The term is also commonly applied to the same group of people as the relations of the monarch in her or his role as sovereign of any of the other Commonwealth realms, thus sometimes at variance with...

. In London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 the Royal Mews has occupied two main sites, formerly at Charing Cross
Charing Cross
Charing Cross denotes the junction of Strand, Whitehall and Cockspur Street, just south of Trafalgar Square in central London, England. It is named after the now demolished Eleanor cross that stood there, in what was once the hamlet of Charing. The site of the cross is now occupied by an equestrian...

, and since the 1820s at Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, in London, is the principal residence and office of the British monarch. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality...


Charing Cross

The first set of stables to be referred to as a mews was at Charing Cross
Charing Cross
Charing Cross denotes the junction of Strand, Whitehall and Cockspur Street, just south of Trafalgar Square in central London, England. It is named after the now demolished Eleanor cross that stood there, in what was once the hamlet of Charing. The site of the cross is now occupied by an equestrian...

 at the western end of The Strand
Strand, London
Strand is a street in the City of Westminster, London, England. The street is just over three-quarters of a mile long. It currently starts at Trafalgar Square and runs east to join Fleet Street at Temple Bar, which marks the boundary of the City of London at this point, though its historical length...

. The royal hawks were kept at this site from 1377 and the name derives from the fact that they were confined there at moult
In biology, moulting or molting , also known as sloughing, shedding, or for some species, ecdysis, is the manner in which an animal routinely casts off a part of its body , either at specific times of year, or at specific points in its life cycle.Moulting can involve the epidermis , pelage...

ing (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
Ralph Agas
Ralph Agas , English land surveyor, was born at Stoke-by-Nayland, Suffolk, about 1540, and entered upon the practice of his profession in 1566....

 (also known as Aggas), the Mews can be seen extending back onto the site of today's Leicester Square
Leicester Square
Leicester Square is a pedestrianised square in the West End of London, England. The Square lies within an area bound by Lisle Street, to the north; Charing Cross Road, to the east; Orange Street, to the south; and Whitcomb Street, to the west...


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
William Kent
William Kent , born in Bridlington, Yorkshire, was an eminent English architect, landscape architect and furniture designer of the early 18th century.He was baptised as William Cant.-Education:...

, 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
Sloane Square
Sloane Square is a small hard-landscaped square on the boundaries of the fashionable London districts of Knightsbridge, Belgravia and Chelsea, located southwest of Charing Cross, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The square is part of the Hans Town area designed in 1771 by Henry...

 were open only to the residents of the surrounding houses.

Buckingham Palace

The present Royal Mews is in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, to the south of Buckingham Palace Gardens
Buckingham Palace Gardens
The garden at Buckingham Palace is situated at the rear of Buckingham Palace. It covers much of the area of the former Goring Great Garden, named after Lord Goring, occupant of one of the earliest grand houses on the site...

, near Grosvenor Place.

In the 1760s George III
George III of the United Kingdom
George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death...

 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
George IV of the United Kingdom
George IV was the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and also of Hanover from the death of his father, George III, on 29 January 1820 until his own death ten years later...

 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
Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square is a public space and tourist attraction in central London, England, United Kingdom. At its centre is Nelson's Column, which is guarded by four lion statues at its base. There are a number of statues and sculptures in the square, with one plinth displaying changing pieces of...

 was built on the site. The current Royal Mews was built to designs by John Nash
John Nash (architect)
John Nash was a British architect responsible for much of the layout of Regency London.-Biography:Born in Lambeth, London, the son of a Welsh millwright, Nash trained with the architect Sir Robert Taylor. He established his own practice in 1777, but his career was initially unsuccessful and...

 and were completed in 1825 (though the Riding School, thought to be by William Chambers
William Chambers (architect)
Sir William Chambers was a Scottish architect, born in Gothenburg, Sweden, where his father was a merchant. Between 1740 and 1749 he was employed by the Swedish East India Company making several voyages to China where he studied Chinese architecture and decoration.Returning to Europe, he studied...

, dates from the 1760s). The buildings have been modified extensively since.

The Royal Mews is regularly open to the public. The state coaches and other carriages are kept there, along with about 30 horses, together with their modern counterparts, the state motor cars. Coachmen, grooms, chauffeurs and other staff are accommodated in flats above the carriage houses and stables.

Royal and State Carriages

A few of the carriages stored at the Mews are pictured here in action; several more are illustrated on their own pages (see listing below).

Vehicles are in the care of the Royal Mews are listed below. A good number are on public display (though not all are kept in London). Most are in regular use: some (for example the Broughams are driven on a daily basis; others (above all the Gold Coach) are only used on great and rare State occasions. The list includes vehicles for personal, recreational and sporting use, as well as those designed and kept for State occasions:

  • The Gold State Coach
    Gold State Coach
    The Gold State Coach is an enclosed, eight horse-drawn carriage used by the British Royal Family. It was built in the London workshops of Samuel Butler in 1762 and has been used at the coronation of every British monarch since George IV...

  • The Irish State Coach
    Irish State Coach
    The Irish State Coach is an enclosed, four-horse-drawn carriage used by the British Royal Family. It is the traditional horse-drawn coach in which the British monarch travels from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster to formally open the new legislative session of the UK Parliament.The...

  • The Scottish State Coach
    Scottish State Coach
    The Scottish State Coach is an enclosed, four horse-drawn carriage used by the British Royal Family.The coach was built in 1830 for Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge and his family used it for many years until they sold it to William Keppel, 7th Earl of Albemarle, who converted it into a...

  • The Australian State Coach
    Australian State Coach
    The Australian State Coach is an enclosed, six horse-drawn carriage used by the British Royal Family. The coach was presented to Queen Elizabeth II of Australia and the United Kingdom as the official gift on the occasion of the Australian Bicentennial on 8 May 1988. The coach was a gift from the...

  • The State Coach Britannia
    State Coach Britannia
    The State Coach Britannia is an enclosed, six horse-drawn carriage. The carriage was completed in 2010 by coachbuilder W.J. Frecklington , renowned for having built the 1988 Australian State Coach. Although completed in 2010, as of March 2011 the coach had still not been shipped to London...

  • Queen Alexandra's State Coach
    Queen Alexandra's State Coach
    Queen Alexandra's State Coach is one of several State Carriages maintained at the Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace. It was built around the year 1865, initially as a plain 'town coach'. Some 30 years later it was glazed and converted into a State Coach for the use of the Princess of Wales ...

  • The Glass Coach
    Glass Coach
    Glass coach is a term which may be used to describe any coach which is predominantly glazed rather than enclosed. Perhaps the best-known example is The Glass Coach maintained by the Royal Mews in London, which is one of the Royal carriages of the United Kingdom...

  • King Edward VII's Town Coach
    King Edward VII's Town Coach
    King Edward VII's Town Coach is a carriage of the Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace. Not being a State Coach, it is much plainer than some of the other carriages kept at the Mews....

  • Several Landau carriages
    Landau (carriage)
    A landau is a coachbuilding term for a type of four-wheeled, convertible carriage. See also Landau .It is lightweight and suspended on elliptical springs. It was invented in the 18th century and was named after the German city of Landau in the Rhenish Palatinate where they were first produced...

    • The 1902 State Landau
      1902 State Landau
      The 1902 State Landau is a landau open-topped horse-drawn carriage owned by the United Kingdom for royal use within Britain. It is by far the most elegant of the several landau carriages used by the royal family...

    • Seven other State Landaus
    • Five Semi-state Landaus
    • Five Ascot Landaus
  • Barouche
    A barouche was a fashionable type of horse-drawn carriage in the 19th century. Developed from the calash of the 18th century, it was a four-wheeled, shallow vehicle with two double seats inside, arranged vis-à-vis, so that the sitters on the front seat faced those on the back seat...

    s and Sociables
  • Broughams
    Brougham (carriage)
    A brougham was a light, four-wheeled horse-drawn carriage built in the 19th century. It was either invented for Scottish jurist Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux, Lord Chancellor of Great Britain, or simply made fashionable by his example...

     and Clarences
    Clarence (carriage)
    A clarence or growler is a type of carriage popular in the 19th century, essentially an expanded version of the Brougham. It is a closed, four-wheeled horse-driven vehicle with a glass front and seats for four passengers inside. The driver sat at the front, outside the carriage...

  • Phaetons
    Phaeton (carriage)
    Phaeton is the early 19th-century term for a sporty open carriage drawn by a single horse or a pair, typically with four extravagantly large wheels, very lightly sprung, with a minimal body, fast and dangerous. It usually had no sidepieces in front of the seats...

     and Victorias
    Victoria (carriage)
    The victoria was an elegant French carriage, possibly based on a phaeton made for King George IV of the United Kingdom. A victoria may be visualised as essentially a phaeton with the addition of a coachman's box-seat....

  • Sporting carriages, including a rare Curricle
    A curricle was a smart, light two-wheeled chaise or "chariot", large enough for the driver and a passenger and— most unusual for a vehicle with a single axle—usually drawn by a carefully matched pair of horses...

  • Recreational vehicles, such as the Louis-Philippe Charabanc
    A charabanc or "char-à-banc" is a type of horse-drawn vehicle or early motor coach, usually open-topped, common in Britain during the early part of the 20th century. It was especially popular for sight-seeing or "works outings" to the country or the seaside, organised by businesses once a year...

  • A variety of pony carriages, drags and exercise vehicles

In less regular use is Queen Victoria's State Sledge, one of a number of royal sleighs in the Mews.

Also on display are some of the historic and immaculately-kept liveries and harnesses (which likewise see regular use), ranging from the plainer items used for exercising and working horses, to the richly ornamented State liveries and harnesses designed for use with the similarly-appointed State coaches.

Carriage horses

The horses in the Royal Mews today are for the most part either Windsor Grey
Windsor Grey
The term Windsor Grey is given to grey horses used by the Royalty of the United Kingdom to draw carriages and coaches in various ceremonial processions and, since 1986, when The Queen is Trooping the Colour. They are stabled in the Royal Mews...

s or Cleveland Bay
Cleveland Bay
The Cleveland Bay is a breed of horse that originated in England during the 17th century, named after its colouring and the Cleveland district of Yorkshire. It is a well-muscled horse, with legs that are strong but short in relation to the body. The horses are always bay in colour, although a...

s, though this has not always been the case (for example, for over 200 years locally-bred Hanoverian Cream horses took pride of place in the harness on major state occasions, until problems due to inbreeding led to their use being discontinued in the mid-1920s). The horses are regularly exercised in the art of pulling carriages (one of the reasons for the continuing use of horse-drawn transport for the daily messenger rounds); they are used for competitive
Carriage driving
Carriage Driving is a form of horse driving in harness in which larger two or four wheeled carriages, often restored antiques, are pulled by a single horse, a pair, tandem or a four-in-hand team. Pleasure competitions are judged on the turnout, neatness or suitability of the horse or horses and the...

 and recreational driving as well as for ceremonial duties.

The State Cars

The maintenance and provision of modern motor vehicles is as much a part of the work of the Mews as that of carriages and horses. The State Cars (as opposed to those for private use) are all painted in royal maroon livery and are without numberplates. They comprise two Bentley State Limousine
Bentley State Limousine
The Bentley State Limousine is an official state car created by Bentley for Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee in 2002.The vehicle's twin-turbocharged, 6.75-litre V8 engine has been modified from Bentley's Arnage R version to produce and of torque. Its maximum speed is . The...

 (given to the Queen in 2002 to mark her Golden Jubilee
Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II
The Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II was the international celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the accession of Elizabeth II to the thrones of seven countries, upon the death of her father, George VI, on 6 February 1952, and was intended by the Queen to be both a commemoration of her 50...

), and three Rolls Royces (including the 1977 Silver Jubilee
Rolls-Royce Phantom VI
The Phantom VI was an ultra-exclusive Rolls-Royce model made from 1968-1991.Based on the Phantom V, the Phantom VI had a re-styled facia and was powered by an engine derived from the current Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow...

 car, and a rare 1948 Phantom IV
Rolls-Royce Phantom IV
The Phantom IV is the most exclusive Rolls-Royce model ever built.Only 18 were made between 1950 and 1956, exclusively for royalty and heads of state...

). Three Daimler limousines
Daimler DS420
The Daimler DS420, popularly known as the Daimler Limousine, is a large limousine produced by Daimler Motor Company between 1968 and 1992. The vehicles are used extensively as official state cars in several countries, including by the British and Danish Royal Families...

 are also maintained, as support vehicles.

Official oversight

The care and training of so many horses, the ongoing care and maintenance of the carriages, cars and tack
Horse tack
Tack is a term used to describe any of the various equipment and accessories worn by horses in the course of their use as domesticated animals. Saddles, stirrups, bridles, halters, reins, bits, harnesses, martingales, and breastplates are all forms of horse tack...

, along with the actual use of these royal vehicles, means that the Mews is very much a working part of the Palace. The Royal Mews Department is overseen by an official called the Crown Equerry
Crown Equerry
The Crown Equerry is the operational head of the Royal Mews of the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. He is responsible for the provision of vehicular transport for the Sovereign, both cars and horse-drawn carriages...


Other locations

The Royal Mews, Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace is a royal palace in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Greater London; it has not been inhabited by the British royal family since the 18th century. The palace is located south west of Charing Cross and upstream of Central London on the River Thames...

overlooks Hampton Court Green. It continues to provide accommodation for royal staff, and horses are stabled there from time to time. It is not open to the public. There is a working Royal Mews at Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is a medieval castle and royal residence in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, notable for its long association with the British royal family and its architecture. The original castle was built after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I it...

 where the Ascot carriages are normally kept, together with vehicles used in Windsor Great Park
Windsor Great Park
Windsor Great Park is a large deer park of , to the south of the town of Windsor on the border of Berkshire and Surrey in England. The park was, for many centuries, the private hunting ground of Windsor Castle and dates primarily from the mid-13th century...

. Some horses for riding (rather than driving) are also stabled here. At Holyrood
Holyrood Palace
The Palace of Holyroodhouse, commonly referred to as Holyrood Palace, is the official residence of the monarch in Scotland. The palace stands at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, at the opposite end to Edinburgh Castle...

, the Royal Mews (situated in Abbey Strand) is one of the oldest parts of the Palace, and is still pressed into service whenever royal carriages are used in Edinburgh.

Historically, the old stables of St James's Palace, which stood where Lancaster House
Lancaster House
Lancaster House is a mansion in the St. James's district in the West End of London. It is close to St. James's Palace and much of the site was once part of the palace complex...

is now, were also sometime referred to as the Royal Mews.

External links

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