Ever wondered what it’s like to live like Jimi? Want to see the place that inspired some of the most stunning operas and oratorios? We thought so… continue reading to find out more about Handel & Hendrix.
London has cultivated some of the best musicians of all time; the dwelling place for both striving artists and established musical legends. It has been a playground for the gifted and talented for centuries and is littered with sites that bare the footprints of so many famous faces.
But one building towers above the others when it comes to London’s musical legacy. Buried within the affluent and sophisticated Mayfair district, Handel & Hendrix was the home of two of the greatest performers of all time. A partitioning wall lies between the abodes of classical composer George Frideric Handel and the greatest guitarist to have graced the rock world, Jimi Hendrix. The site has transformed since the turn of the millenium into a museum, allowing you to time travel to the psychedelic 60s or 18th century Georgian elegance thanks to the astonishing restorations.
Spread across two terraces, the museum is located on 23-25 Brook Street, the homes of Hendrix & Handel, respectively. The Handel House is much larger than the Hendrix Flat, and their different styles have been lovingly restored to their corresponding glory days spanning 200 years apart.
The House was opened in 2001 by the Handel House Trust charity. The terrace building, where Handel resided for 26 years prior to his death in 1759, sports a basement and attic, separated by three storeys in between. Four rooms of the house were reconstructed to form the museum, such as his bedroom and dining room, which were where the composer created and practised his craft including the celebrated ‘Messiah’. The rooms also saw Handel rehearse and perform before friends and neighbours, witnessing operatic history in the making.
Now restored to the fine Georgian design and comprising some original features like the staircase, the museum transports you to the classical era of 18th century London. Visitors can see reproductions of Handel’s harpsichord in addition to some original memorabilia accumulated by the Trust. You can even see the windows that Handel reportedly threatened to throw his ‘underperforming’ sopranos out of! The adjoining house of the museum further showcases the artist’s life and career through various temporary exhibitions.
15 years after the opening of Handel House, the building yielded to the pressure of many music pilgrims arriving in Mayfair to see the stomping ground of the rock legend. The upper storey of 23 Brook Street was formerly used as an admin office for the Handel House, however was renovated back to the swinging 60s; the era of Hendrix, to allow fans to observe the site as it was when the star lived there with girlfriend Kathy Etchingham. He only occupied the flat for a short spell of nine months, but expressed that it was the ‘first, real home of his own’. The site remains sacred, being the haunt where Hendrix wrote and performed new music, and being one of his last homes before his tragic death in 1970.
The museum is now a shrine to the world of rock music, comprising everything from Hendrix’s two telephones to his ashtrays, with the help of former girlfriend Etchingham’s advice. It was intended to be a temporary exhibition to mark the 40th anniversary of the singer’s death, however was established as a permanent part of the museum due to popular interest.
If only walls could talk…thankfully the expert guides at Handel & Hendrix can. Get the low down on the history of the building as you step into the worlds of two musical greats. The guided tour gives will share the secrets of the two abodes, pointing out the very spots that inspired such musical creativity.
Guided tours take place weekly at 2pm on Friday, and can be bought on the door. Tickets are included in the general admission price.
You can also wander around Handel & Hendrix privately with up to 20 friends. Their group tours last approximately an hour and are available 10am on weekdays for £350, and between 11am and 4pm on weekdays for £450. For those with specific interests, you can inquire about their tailor-made tours with the option of including a musical recital to the package.
The museum isn’t limited to tours, offering much more to pay tribute to the musical giants that once graced its halls. Their calendar of events includes the likes of rehearsals, talks and discussions, and special late night openings. You can even learn to play like Hendrix in the home of the guitar hero, or sample Baroque music in the very place that Handel performed with their weekly recitals.
Some of the events coming up include:
Channel your inner Hendrix with one-hour guitar classes held by an experienced teacher specialising in Jimi’s techniques. The workshops are suitable for all levels and allow you to rehearse in a friendly environment. Make the rock god proud and fill his home with music again, all for the price of £12.
The museum ensures that Handel is continuously remembered for his true passion; classical music, with a series of open rehearsal sessions every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon. Between 11.30am and 1.30pm, Handel’s House will once again be filled with the melodic sounds of live Baroque music. From solo flute or harpsichord concerts to mixed ensembles, visiting the museum during these hours is the perfect way to glimpse into Handel’s world.
Visit TickX’s Handel & Hendrix page for a full list of events and tickets.
Adult tickets are priced at £10 and children can enter for £5. If you’re a National Art Pass holder or a Handel House Friend, you can visit the Handel & Hendrix for free.
The museum is £5 for registered blind (or partially-sighted) and disabled citizens, and carers and guide dogs can accompany for free.
You can get tickets to the museum’s permanent collection and several events by scrawling Tickx, which will allow you to secure the cheapest available tickets.
Handel & Hendrix aims to make visits as accommodating as possible for all. International visitors can discover the information sheets in many different languages around the museum, including French, Spanish, German, Italian and Japanese. The museum’s various volunteers are also on hand to assist you around the building, sharing their historical knowledge along the way.
The building offers full access and supportive facilities for disabled visitors, however it is advised to call ahead of your trip if you require any particular support. There is nearby disabled parking available and lift access to the rear entrance. Many events also leverage the museum’s accessibility, where most concerts are suitable for everyone and there is a range of verbal descriptive tours and events.
Where is it?
Close to the famously wealthy Bond Street, Handel & Hendrix is betwixt Grosvenor and Hanover squares. The museum is located on a stunning row of Georgian townhouses on Brook Street, adding to its glamour and charm. The exterior of the buildings wears two blue flags in honour of their former residents. Be sure to head to the museum’s main entrance at no. 25 to access the site, or round the back at Lancashire Court if this is closed.
The full address for the museum is Handel & Hendrix, 25 Brook Street, Mayfair, London W1K 4HB.
How do I get there?
You can easily reach the museum via many different public transport routes. While parking is possible, it’s important to remember that Handel & Hendrix is located within the Congestion Charge Zone.
Congestion fees are in operation from 7am – 6pm on weekdays. There are many surrounding streets that offer parking, as well as pay and display bays at Hanover Square and Brooks Mews, and larger car parks surrounding the West End. Check in advance whether you will need cash or card, as parking in this area can often require particular methods of payment.
Head to Bond Street or Oxford Circus, which can be reached via Jubilee and Central lines, and Victoria, Central and Bakerloo lines, respectively.
The two closest railways stations are Victoria and Marylebone. You’ll likely need to get the tube afterwards to Oxford Circus, as both are around a half-hour walk away.
Several bus lines stop close by the museum, operating on Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street.
When is it open?
Visit Handel & Hendrix between 11am and 6pm, Monday to Saturday with last entries at 5pm. If you’re planning to go on a bank holiday, make sure you check their website in advance.
If you’re feeling creatively inspired after visiting the Handel & Hendrix, the museum’s central location allows you to reach many surrounding art galleries within a short walking distance. The Photographers’ Gallery is only 6 minutes away, while Omer Tiroche, Victoria Miro and Fashion Space are all less than 5 minutes’ walking.
Handel & Hendrix is an opportune starting point to explore many of London’s leading attractions. Nestled within Mayfair, you can easily venture down the renowned Oxford Street in 4 minutes, or stroll around the ‘Times Square’ of London; Piccadilly Circus in just over 10 minutes. In less than 15 minutes’ walking lies the bustling, trendy Soho, the uber-cool, village-style Shepherd Market, and the glorious and renowned theatre playground of the West End district.
Food and Drink:
If you’re feelin purple-hazy after exploring Handel & Hendrix, stop for a bite to eat at one of many neighbouring eateries. Mr Foggs is a Victorian bar named after the adventurer, Phileas, J. Fogg, with a brave cocktail menu inspired by his travels. Or splash the cash at Mews of Mayfair; vintage elegance complete with cocktails, a courtyard and a chandelier. Alternatively, get your fill by heading to the Iron Duke for some traditional and high-quality pub grub in a family-friendly environment.