Handel and Hendrix in London
Handel and Hendrix in London comprises two buildings – 23 and 25 Brook Street – within the Mayfair Conservation Area of the City of Westminster. 25 Brook Street was the residence of George Frideric Handel from its construction in 1723 until his death in 1759. 23 Brook Street, the adjacent building, contains the top floor flat where Jimi Hendrix lived while in London in the late 1960s.
The Handel and Hendrix project creates a unique heritage site that celebrates the social, historical and musical heritage of Brook Street and the musical legacy of Handel and Hendrix and makes these accessible to a far larger audience than was previously possible.
Claire Davies, Head of Learning and Participation at Handel & Hendrix commented: “In January 2015 after receiving £1.2 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which we match funded, we started the build and it took a year. It involved turning what was the top of 25 Brook Street, the attic space of Handel’s house, into an exhibition space and then knocking through to 23 Brook Street where Hendrix’s flat was. On top of the attic space of Handel’s house, we were also able to build another level which is office space for staff.
“We got the first and second floor of Handel’s house open in 2001 then the plan was always to get the Hendrix flat open. The next stage for us is to restore the ground floor and basement of Handel House.”
Handel House occupies two floors of 25 Brook Street. The four restored historic rooms include Handel’s Bedroom and the Music Room, which was also the dining room, where he rehearsed his musicians and singers and often gave informal recitals for friends and neighbours. Additional rooms in the adjoining house are used for temporary exhibitions, which focus on aspects of Handel’s life, professional career and associates.
The Hendrix Flat occupies the upper floor of 23 Brook Street. The main room of the flat where he lived, entertained friends, rehearsed and wrote new music, and gave numerous press and media interviews has been restored.
Handel & Hendrix in London is also dedicated to learning and education. They aim to promote knowledge, awareness and enjoyment of Handel, Hendrix and their music through inspiring, engaging, fun, creative and informative programmes. A new learning studio has also been created to provide a perfect platform for as wide an audience as possible to see, hear, do and learn.
The architects on the project were Haines Phillips Architects.
Maha Phillips from Haines Phillips commented: “We undertook full architectural services from conception to the completion of the project. We carried out a feasibility study and a master plan for the Museum, undertook design work and liaison with English Heritage and Westminster planning and design department up to the submission of the planning and listed building application, followed by detailed design and production of tender drawings and specifications, and were responsible for architectural duties during the construction stage in liaison with the principal contractor and the design team to realise the project.
“Being lead consultant and working with the Design Team on this prestigious project has been a privilege. We have strengthened our track record in working successfully on sensitive listed buildings in tricky urban contexts and have expanded our experience in the cultural and arts fields and in working on Heritage Lottery funded projects.”
The main contractors were Desertoak. Claire praised Desertoak for the work they undertook on the project.
She said: “My biggest observation of the project was how fantastic the construction team were. I have not been very exposed to many building projects but it was so well organised and the people running it were so lovely. All of the workers were really nice and I will always remember that because they were so courteous. We never shut and were always open to the public the whole time and every so often the odd room would be closed but it was done so well and it never felt intrusive.”
Stephen Dear, Associate Director at Desertoak commented: “This project has been one of our favourite projects to work on for many reasons. The main ones being;
The attitude of the professional team and their approach to the project, the staff’s welcoming and accommodating attitude and the challenging works and complex programming required. We were working in four major areas of the museum, whilst they remained open. This was achieved by meticulous planning and the museum accommodating Desertoak to progress in areas ahead of programme.
“We are delighted to have been the main contractor on this successful project and hope to work with the professional team again in the near future completing similar projects.”
The new facilities at Handel & Hendrix in London opened in February 2016.
Claire concluded: “It is really exciting to be part of something that’s new. I love music and history so for me, to work in a place where you can really dip into two periods of history and two types of music is really inspiring. It is particularly exciting to put these things into a learning programme where you can explore all of these amazing moments of music and compare and contrast and find similarities between things that are never usually compared. You would never put these two men together so when you do it creates this big centre of creativity and that makes it exciting and unique and I guess I’m lucky to be able to work in an environment where you get a creative and exciting subject matter.”