Garden Lodge Mansion is on a quiet residential street in Kensington, London. If it weren’t for the piles of sorrowful letters, you would never guess that it was once the home of one of rock music’s most irrepressible performers, Queen frontman Freddie Mercury.
Mercury moved into the house in 1985, and decorated sumptuously. In the beginning, Garden Lodge was host to raucous parties and late night recording sessions in the attached studio. However, as Mercury’s health deteriorated he retreated from the public eye. Despite the fact that he denied his HIV positive diagnosis, began to spend less and less time performing and on camera, and more time at home in Garden Lodge. He grew increasingly frail, and in the final weeks of his life he was tended to by his former lover and best friend, Mary Austin. Mercury died on November 24, 1991. He left the home and much of his estate to Austin, wanting to secure a place for her and her sons.
Contrary to his flamboyant stage persona, Freddie Mercury’s home life was secluded and private. This is reflected in Garden Lodge, which is surrounded by tall stone walls that shield the house and garden from view. Mercury was cremated and his ashes were interred in a secret location that Mary Austin states she will never disclose. Without a gravesite at which to pay their respects, fans flocked to 1 Logan Place to mourn. The stone walls were soon covered in letters and memorabilia, and on the green doors marked “Studio Gate” and “Garden Lodge” mourners etched their condolences.
Mary Austin and her family still reside in Garden Lodge, where the decor is apparently much the same as Freddie Mercury left it. Outside on the street, though it has been more than two decades since Mercury’s death, Queen fans still leave letters, flowers, gifts, and graffiti to remember the singer.
Update January 2019: The stone walls have recently been cleaned up with no sign of graffiti and letters left by Freddie’s fans. Fans continue to seek out the backstreet so it’s possible that soon that they won’t be bare long. However, Garden Lodge’s new back door warns that “graffiti is a crime” and points out that security cameras are in operation.