200 years separated George Frederic Handel and Jimi Hendrix but they both lived in the same building in Brook Street, London, and Hendrix claimed to have seen Handel’s ghost in the bathroom. The building is now the Handel and Hendrix Museum and I visited it with a friend and we both enjoyed the experience because it felt very homely and we learned a lot about both Handel and Hendrix.
George Frederic Handel:
Handel was born in Germany in 1685 and was the first occupant of 25 Brook Street, London. He lived in the house from 1723 until he died in 1759. While there he composed lots of music including Messiah, and performed nearby at places such as the Covent Garden Theatre. We saw his grand piano, lots of portraits and the huge four poster bed he slept in.
Jimi Hendrix lived in the top floor flat next door from 1968-9, most of which is laid out as a museum with many displays about his concerts. I was very impressed by his record collection which included Sergeant Pepper and Handel’s Messiah. The room which had been his bedroom is arranged as it was when he lived there with his girlfriend, including a 1960’s style television, telephone and cassette player.
Handel and Hendrix:
There’s lots of information in the museum about the local venues the two musicians visited while living there, the shops they used and the bars and restaurants they socialised in. For instance Hendrix furnished his flat with curtains and cushions he bought from the John Lewis shop in Oxford Street nearby. After your visit you could go for a walk and retrace their steps.
A few practical details:
Tickets need to be booked in advance and cost £10 but are free if you have the National Art Pass. Entry is down a passageway and through a beautiful courtyard used by diners from a restaurant nearby, then up lots of narrow stairs.
The nearest tube station is Bond Street and a number of different bus routes run along Oxford Street. The area is full of shops, cafes and restaurants so you won’t get hungry.
The Handel and Hendrix Museum is open Thursdays to Saturdays at present and then closes on 23 September 2021 for restoration so if you want to visit, I suggest you go soon.