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The mews that’s seen stable flow of celebs

PUBLISHED: 10:19 08 May 2008 | UPDATED: 15:02 07 September 2010

Melanie Backe-Hanson reveals the fascinating history of Daleham Mews and famous people who have lived there

HAM&HIGH readers will have seen the story last week about Camden Council threatening residents of Daleham Mews with legal action over potted plants.

The quiet, cobbled mews street in Belsize Park is a favoured place for people to sit out in the sun and enjoy the greenery.

But few will know the fascinating history behind the place and the esteemed people who have lived there over the years.

The picturesque Daleham Mews has often been compared to a cobble-stoned country lane and although originally built as stables, has been the home of actors and directors and was even used for the filming of Nancherrow, featuring Joanna Lumley, in 1998.

The properties within the mews are still entitled to keep donkeys and horses, and on the occasional morning the Household Cavalry can still be seen exercising their horses. The featured house in Daleham Mews was formerly used as the stables for prominent local residents including Judge Sir Charles Montague Lush and the grandfather of celebrity photographer Sir Cecil Beaton.

The western side of Daleham Mews was the first to be built during the late 1880s, with the eastern section following in the early 1890s. Today's numbers 5-25 Daleham Mews were first known as numbers 1-11 Daleham Lodge Stables, with the featured home originally numbered 7. When first built, it was used for the horses of Dr Philip Arthur Houghton and Charles Montague Lush of number 8 Fitzjohn's Avenue.

The 1891 census shows number 8 Fitzjohn's Avenue was home to Dr Percy Lush and surgery partner Dr Philip Houghton, registered general practitioners and surgeons. The house was also home to Percy's brother, barrister and solicitor Charles Lush and their uncle William Lush, aged 81, "living on his own means." Charles Lush went on to become Queen's Council in 1902 and in 1910 was knighted and made a judge of the King's Bench Division.

The parish rate book from 1893 was the first reference to the inhabitant of the "rooms over stables" at number 7, at which time it was home to Albert Henry Cooke "in service." Very little is known about Albert Cooke, but it is most likely he was a coachman and would have lived in the rooms above the stables with his family.

By 1899 Daleham Mews had been renumbered and the researched house had become the property of Walter Hardy Beaton of number 8 Netherhall Gardens. Walter Hardy Beaton was a timber merchant who founded the family firm of Beaton Brothers Timber Merchants and Agents. At the time of the 1891 census he was living in Netherhall Gardens with his son Reginald, niece Ellen and a visitor, along with six servants.

Walter Beaton's grandson grew up to become photographer and designer Sir Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton. Beaton started his career photographing "bright young things" during the 1920s but later went on to photograph members of the royal family, including the official wedding photographs for the Duke of Windsor and Mrs Wallis Simpson in 1937. After World War II he moved into costume design for stage and screen and was responsible for many iconic costumes including the black and white costumes for the racing scene of My Fair Lady. He also won an Oscar for his work on the 1958 film, Gigi.

Daleham Mews has been the home of many eminent residents including theatre director John Fernald, who lived at number 2 from the 1950s, actor Roy Kinnear who lived at number 33 during the 1960s, and more recently actor Sean Bean, who moved into the mews in 1998.

o Melanie Backe-Hansen is an historian working for estate agents Chesterton.


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