Mews


The term mews is plural in form but singular in construction. A building where birds used for falconry are kept. The name derives from the fact that falcons were confined there at moulting (or “mew”) time.
Originating in London, the first building to be referred to as a mews was the King’s Mews at Charring Cross. The royal hawks and falconry birds were kept at this site from 1377. The building was destroyed by fire in 1534 and rebuilt primarily as stables in 1537, keeping its former name. It was demolished in the 19th century and Trafalgar Square was built on the site. The photograph shows Dunworth Mews in Notting Hill, London.

The present Royal Mews was then built in the grounds of Buckingham Palace.
Geoffrey Chaucer [1345 – 1400], author of The Canterbury Tales and The Parliament of Fowls, was employed in service to King Edward III controlling and collecting excise taxes. His family were wholesale vintners. He was given an apartment over Aldersgate and a gallon pitcher of wine daily for life. In 1398 he was given a bonus of a ‘tun of wine’ as a yearly gift. He also became the Overseer of a hunting lodge in the Royal Forest and maintained the king’s falcons at Charing Cross. He made many references to falconry and hawking in his tales and poems where he used the following words: Tercelets for young male falcons, Formel for the breeding female and Haggards for a pair of breeding falcons who have successfully raised two clutches of offspring. Reference: From The Riverside Chaucer by Larry Dean Benson, published 2008.

The use of the word mews has spread to parts of Canada and the United States. “Washington Mews” are a gated community located in Greenwich Village, NYC. Bob’s sister Peggy lived in “The Mews” in old town Alexandria, VA while working in Washington, D.C.

Falconers of today are required by federal and state laws to provide spaces for their hawks. There are generally two well-defined entities – a weathering yard and a mews. A weathering yard is an open area where the bird may safely spend her days during good weather. A mews is where she will live and is traditionally a stand-alone building completely enclosed. In most raptors, molt is an annual shedding of the feathers. A successful molt starts in spring or early summer, concludes in autumn, requires a bird to be healthy, and with proper nutrition to produce a new set of feathers. During molt, hormonal changes occur that some say make the female grouchy, overly protective and/or very territorial. PMS = Peregrine Molt Syndrome

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