The word ï¿½Mewsï¿½ originally referred to a place where hunting birds were kept. In 1515 an expenditure of 200 pounds on ï¿½building the mews at Charing Crossï¿½ is recorded. By 1530 Henry VIIIï¿½s plans had become far grander and many buildings including the mews were pulled down to provide stone, brick, chalk and tiles for the Kingï¿½s new York Place.
It was probably Henry VIII who converted the Mews into stables for horses. If he did he was also responsible for changing the meaning of the word mews, so that it is now usually used to describe a group of stables. The buildings were set around an open yard with a pond. The ï¿½Great Mewsï¿½ filled most of the site of the present Trafalgar Square. The ï¿½Crown Stablesï¿½ were on the site of the western part of the National Gallery, and the ï¿½Green Mewsï¿½ extended backwards to what is now Orange Street.
A grand plan for rebuilding the Mews was put forward by Christopher Wren, but never carried out. William Kent did the only rebuilding instead, and this was limited to the main block of stables on the site of the National Gallery.