Country houses for sale

Freddie Mercury’s house is on the market, 46 years after he bought it following an advert in Country Life

The seven-bedroom home returns to the market for offers in excess of £30 million, and still carries plenty of Freddie Mercury's artistic touches.

Back in 1978, a house appeared for sale in the pages of Country Life magazine, as they often did and still do. Named Garden Lodge, on Logan Place, Kensington, W8, the property was advertised by Chestertons as ‘standing in its own grounds… a unique, low-built, detached house with a superb studio’. It came with seven bedrooms, and was put up for sale for offers in excess of £300,000.

A prospective buyer came along and put his money down immediately. That buyer was Freddie Mercury, lead singer of the rock band Queen, already at the top of the music world having released songs such as We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions just a few months beforehand.

Credit: Country Life Archive/Future Publishing

We’ll never know for sure if Freddie Mercury first saw Garden Lodge in the pages of Country Life, but we do know that he did buy the property ‘on the spot’ the first time he visited it. Following the extremely successful sale of the home’s contents last year, the property is now up for sale for offers in excess of £30 million with Knight Frank. (There’s no online listing as yet, incidentally; prospective buyers are encouraged to contact the agent direct.)

If you’re looking at that 100-fold price increase on its 1978 price, well, so are we. £300,000 for a seven-bedroom house in Kensington? Even accounting for inflation it seems cheap — £300,000 is around £1.67 million in today’s money.  At the time, the average house in the UK cost around £12,000 — precisely 1/25th of what Garden Lodge went on sale for. At £30 million, it’s now worth over 110 times as much as the average UK house. That difference is partly to do with how much the needle has shifted in the ‘Super Prime’ London property market in the last half century, but only partly (another fairly amazing seven-bedroom house is for sale nearby at under £12m).  It’s mostly down to the long list of changes and improvements made in the last 46 years (of which more later) and the house’s status as a piece of rock history.

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Credit: Barney Hindle

The house hasn’t been on the market since that 1978 advert: its current owner, Mary Austin, was left the property by Freddie after his death in 1991, and has spent the past 30 years looking after it. She has now decided to sell it.

‘This house has been the most glorious memory box, because it has such love and warmth in every room,’ Mary says.

‘It has been a joy to live in and I have many wonderful memories here.

‘Now that it is empty, I’m transported back to the first time we viewed it. Ever since Freddie and I stepped through the fabled green door, it has been a place of peace, a true artist’s house, and now is the time to entrust that sense of peace to the next person.’

The dining room. Credit Barney Hindle

Originally built in 1907 by the architect Ernest Marshall for the artists Cecil Rea and Constance Halford, Garden Lodge was ‘reinvented’ by Mercury and interior designer Robin Moore Ede. Over the next decade, a program of renovations took place that allowed Garden Lodge to reflect Mercury’s unique style, interests and house his ever-growing collection of objects and art.

All of those renovations, as well as the garden that he helped create, remain at Garden Lodge to this day. Whether in the studio room, in which Mercury wrote countless hits, the bar in the minstrels’ gallery, citrus-yellow walls, the jewel tones reminiscent of his childhood in Zanzibar and India or the Japanese sitting room, the property was undoubtedly the home of the genius that was Freddie Mercury. 

Credit: Barney Hindle

‘The sale of Garden Lodge presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to own a significant property combined with a piece of cultural history, the beloved home of an icon,’ says Paddy Dring, global head of prime sales and joint head of Knight Frank’s private office.

‘Having been carefully preserved with love and respect over the last three decades, we expect that the exceptional provenance of the property will be incredibly alluring to buyers across the world.’

Garden Lodge is for sale via Knight Frank with offers invited over £30 million.

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