Inside Freddie Mercury’s life in his London home from parties, cats and lovers

Freddie Mercury exhibition opens at Sotheby’s

Queen frontman Freddie Mercury would have celebrated his birthday today and he would possibly have thrown one of his raucous parties at his lavish eight-bedroom home in Kensington.

Instead, his beloved possessions will begin to go under the hammer tomorrow, as Sotheby’s prepare to sell off the contents of the property called Garden Lodge having had them on exhibition to the public in their London auction house for the past month.

The flamboyant star, who would have turned 77 today, bought the property for £500,000 cash in 1985 and tragically died there in 1991, leaving the house to his former lover and lifelong friend Mary Austin.

Following his death, the property has become a place of pilgrimage for fans, who used to leave messages for him graffitied on the home’s gate until Mary replaced it a few years ago.

The original gate, with all the graffiti intact, is one of the items that will go under the hammer at the auction, which is expected to raise millions for charity.

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However, in his lifetime the home was not only his quiet retreat from the madness of touring the world and performing stadium shows with the supergroup, but a playground where he hosted some amazing parties.

In 2021, one of his neighbours Leigh Mason spoke about being fortunate enough to attend three of his late-night soirees as a wide-eyed 24-year-old in the late 1980s.

“He was the perfect host, making sure everyone was getting what they wanted, asking people what kind of music they wanted on,” he recalled.

“He encouraged people to be as outrageous as they wanted to be. It was like a festival,” he told My London.

“It was a real mix of people and full of laughter. There were drag queens, guys head to toe in leather…It didn’t seem to be full of celebs. It just seemed to be more creative types and mixed with some locals from down the road which was interesting.”

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However, Freddie also wasn’t averse to hosting celebrities in the home and for his 40th birthday in 1986 he held a silly hat birthday party in the garden of the property attended by a plethora of his showbiz friends.

Alongside these more outrageous affairs, Freddie was also a fan of intimate dinner parties. His Garden Lodge Dining Book recorded the menus, guest lists and table plans for the events and also “Gown and jewels worn” and other notes about the gatherings.

The book, which has been on display in Sotheby’s in advance of the upcoming auction, mentions celebrity dinners with stars such as Montserrat Caballé, with whom he duetted on Barcelona, Tim Rice and Elaine Page. It also notes more private events such as a soiree for Mary’s birthday.

The star’s unusual living arrangements involved sharing the home with boyfriend Jim Hutton, his personal assistant Peter Freestone and his ex-boyfriend and chef Joe Fanelli, alongside his 10 beloved cats.

Jim, who died in 2010, shared the home with Freddie until the day he died however he masqueraded as Freddie’s “gardener” whenever the star’s parents came to visit. They reportedly called each other husband and exchanged rings. He would later claim that Freddie had promised him Garden Lodge although this has been disputed by Peter.

However, it was the cats that really had the run of the household. “Freddie treated the cats like his own children,” his boyfriend of seven years Jim admitted, in his memoir Mercury and Me.

“He would constantly fuss over them, and if any of them came to any harm when Freddie was away, heaven help us. During the day the cats had the run of the house and grounds, and at night one of us would round them up and bring them inside.”

Freddie’s love for his cats was such that in the final video he ever made, for the song Those Were The Days of Our Lives, he is seen wearing a custom-made waistcoat adorned with all their images, which is just one of the items available to buy at the upcoming auction.

Alongside his original cats Tom and Jerry, Freddie was a proud “fur dad” to Tiffany, Dorothy, Delilah, Goliath, Lily, Miko, Oscar, and Romeo.

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