Handel's lottery memorial

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The Independent Online
REBECCA FOWLER

Handel's London home, where he composed the Messiah in his dining room on the fourth floor, is to be bought from an insurance company with the help of a pounds 500,000 lottery grant and transformed into a museum.

The terraced five-storey house in Brook Street central London, where Handel lived for 36 years, was brand new when he moved into it in 1723. It is currently empty, slumbering behind hoarding, and the only clue to its original owner is a blue plaque beside the door.

Since Handel's death in 1759, the house has been taken up by individual owners, turned into a dental surgery and used as an antique shop. The museum hopes to open its doors to 50,000 visitors as a shrine to the composer in two years' time.

Dr Julie Anne Sadie, director of the museum, said: "Handel was the greatest composer ever to live and work in Britain. Other than his grave at Westminster Abbey there is no memorial to him.

"Composers are commemorated in their homes all over the world, so it's fitting and proper that the house in which he lived for so long should become a memorial to him."

The house consists of two rooms and a closet on each floor, and Handel, who was famously fond of fine food, would often retire to the closets to eat. He would even leave his guests in his dining room to eat while he ordered better wine and food in his closet.

Dr Sadie said: "This was the one foible of an otherwise very generous man who did so much for the charities of his day. There was just something about food for him, and of all the inventories the one for the kitchen is the most elaborate."

When renovated the house will include a recital room with seating for 70 people and there will also be a library.

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