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What Is the Handel House Museum?

Britt Archer
Britt Archer

The Handel House Museum was once the home of George Frideric Handel, the famed German composer of Baroque music. He lived at the house on Brook Street in London for more than three decades, until he died in his bedroom at the home on 14 April 1759, and his remains were interred at Westminster Abbey. Handel rented the house and never sought to purchase it, but he was the first resident of the home following its construction. The Handel House Museum is the only one of its kind in London, dedicated solely to the life of a single composer.

An organization called the Handel House Trust began renting part of the home in 2000, and by the following year had opened the doors of the Handel House Museum to the public. Lovers of the unexplained enjoy the story that the ghost of a woman, complete with the scent of perfume, once materialized within the walls of Handel’s home, during the period when the trust was readying the museum for public view. A British journalist’s account of the sighting said officials decided to have an exorcism performed. Another famous musician in the 1960s, Jimi Hendrix, lived next door to the Handel house and also reportedly saw the apparition. The Handel House Museum today also occupies rooms in the house where Jimi Hendrix once lived.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The Handel House Museum sits in fashionable Mayfair, above a shop, but in Handel’s time it was a neighborhood designed for the middle class. At the upper level a plaque has been installed to commemorate Handel, the baroque composer. Another plaque sits close by to commemorate Jimi Hendrix, the rock legend. At the time of the museum’s opening and the plaques’ installation, some neighbors didn’t think the plaque to the rock guitarist should be mounted because he didn’t reside there long, unlike Handel, who stayed 36 years.

The trust recreated the interior of Handel’s home to resemble as much as possible the way it was in 1723 when the composer moved in at the age of 38. His bedroom has been recreated with a canopy bed dressed in crimson, and a reproduction harpsichord sits in Handel’s rehearsal room. A few modern amenities, such as an elevator, have been added.

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