I recently visited London, England for the first time. The surprise highlight of my trip was visiting Freddie Mercury‘s Garden Lodge estate.
A large home, protected by a well-photographed wall in London’s Kensington neighbourhood. This was the iconic singer’s last residence and where he passed away in 1991. It is still owned by Mary Austin: Freddie’s best friend and the woman he not only left his house to, but the only person on Earth who knows where Freddie’s ashes were buried.
There is no official memorial for Freddie Mercury in England.
This door. This wall. This is it.
I wasn’t sure what to expect as I walked along the very narrow and unassuming side street off of the busy Earl’s Court Road. I wondered if it would be odd for me to even be there. Do people still visit? Will I look weird gazing at a green door with writing all over it? As I approached, I saw two people reading the makeshift memorial: Plexiglas that has been placed on the wall as a place for fans to write messages and leave notes behind.
Reading the messages on the wall, it amazed me that to this day people from all over the world felt as compelled as I did to stop by and leave their mark on Freddie’s last home. The vibe here is warm and serene. It’s hard to properly put into words. Everyone I met and/or crossed paths with were there for the same reason: To not only pay respects to a man we didn’t know, but to just be there.
The green Garden Lodge door has become semi-famous in its own right since Freddie’s death. Featured in documentaries and photographed hundreds of times by fans over the years, it has become an unofficial symbol of Freddie for the many fans who never had the chance to see him perform, or who did and just want to remember happier times.
I felt compelled to put my hand on the Garden Lodge door. I don’t know why. I just felt a need to connect. Not long after, a man walked up with flowers. He placed them by the door and then placed his hand on the door, much like I had. We didn’t say a word to each other, but just nodded and smiled and stood on our own while reading the messages on the wall. I stayed for a while longer and began my journey back down the street, running my hand along the bricks of the wall as that need to connect lingered until I could no longer.
Changes to the wall/door as of July 2017:
According to Instagram photos, the Plexiglas with all the writing on it was taken down sometime in early March (I was there late January). There was new clear Plexiglas now on the wall and more disappointingly, over the famous door. Even more disappointing, the “Garden Lodge” lettering has been painted over as of July, but the Plexiglas that covered the door for a few months seems to be gone. Hopefully, people will continue to leave messages on the wall as that made it all the more special. It would be nice to someday see an official memorial location in London. Until then, don’t forget to stop by and leave your message too.
How to get there via the London Underground:
Take the tube to Earl’s Court Road station via the Circle, District or Piccadilly lines. Turn left when you exit the station and walk north on Earl’s Court Road for a few blocks until you get to Logan Place. It’s a tiny side street that is easy to miss. Walk to the end of Logan Place and you will know where you are.