Just around the corner from where I live in Kensington is a small mews. Back when it was built, these were intended as homes for the servants of the people who lived in the very grand houses on Victoria Road, Stanford Road, Eldon Road and Cottesmore Gardens. At the far end of the mews there was a dairy where, some of the older residents will tell you, the local milkman kept his horse and milk float to deliver milk around the area.
With the general decline in the practise of grand families maintaining ‘indoor staff’ after the Second World War, these mews houses were sold off and became a relatively cheap way for youngish professional couples to gain a foothold on the property ladder in the area. The houses themselves were small and often cramped but they were in a desirable neighbourhood.
The existence of these mewses meant that even some of the grandest parts of London remained socially mixed. When Mary and I first got married we lived in a mews house in South Kensington and our neighbours were from various backgrounds: there was a carpenter in one of the houses; a couple of South American hookers in another; a travel journalist directly across from us; and, oddly, the then leader of the Official Unionist Party at the street end.
Anyway, interestingly, a couple of the mews houses close to us have recently changed hands and guess what? The new occupants are domestic staff who work in some of the local big houses.
Ah, the circle of life…