About The Project

Handel House at 25 Brook Street, Mayfair, is a very special place

It is where the great composer, Handel, lived for 36 years – from 1723 to 1759 – and where he wrote many of his most famous masterpieces, including Messiah. The Hallelujah Project will complete this important little jewel of our musical heritage – so that future generations will be able to enjoy it in perpetuity.

The Story So Far

Twenty years ago, the Handel House Trust first set about restoring Handel’s original home at 25 Brook Street.

Four rooms on the upper floors of the house were carefully recreated as they would have been in the 1700s. And, in 2001, these rooms were opened to the public.

Since then:

  • around 20,000 people a year have been to visit
  • up to 2,000 schoolchildren a year have participated in our
    innovative learning programmes
  • Baroque concerts have been held once a week in Handel’s Music Room on the first floor

The Trust owns a 999-year lease on the whole of 25 Brook Street (as well as on the upper floors of the next-door building, number 23).

To date the ground floor and basement of number 25 have been sub- let to a shop, and only the upstairs floors of Handel’s home have been open for the public to view.

Sub-letting the two lower floors has, of course, provided valuable income to the charity. However, it has left Handel’s house as a half- finished project.

  • the original façade is obscured by a modern shop front
  • the house has almost no visual presence on the street, making it
    difficult to find, and much less well-known than it should be
  • the experience of the house for our visitors is incomplete
  • participation in our events and programmes has been limited by only being able to use half the building.

Now the Handel House Trust is ready to embark on the final stage of our mission.

The Hallelujah Project will enable the charity to repossess the ground floor and basement and complete the house.

The Plan

Handel was the first occupant of 25 Brook Street. He moved in in 1723, when it was newly built. The Hallelujah Project will put back his home as closely as possible to exactly how it would have been when the great man himself lived here.

When the house is completed:

  • the façade and railings will be returned to their original state
  • Handel’s two ground floor parlours (where he received visitors and sometimes sold his musical scores) will be restored as they would have been when he lived here
  • the Georgian kitchen in the basement will be fully re-created, with the help of a detailed inventory of its contents that was taken when Handel died
  • the front door and original staircase at 25 Brook Street will once more become the main entrance for all visitors, as they were for Handel himself
  • The rooms throughout will be dressed accurately with Georgian contents
  • Top-quality Georgian-style lighting will be installed throughout the historic rooms to re-create the impression of 18th-century candlelight

Meticulous standards of historical accuracy will be applied to the project, based on records and inventories from the time. The Georgian Group will be closely involved throughout the planning and delivery of the project. And experts on all aspects of 18th-century life and music will be consulted from start to finish.

The Experience

In addition to physically restoring the building, the Hallelujah Project will enable us to enrich the magic of the house for everyone who visits.

Our mission is to share the greatness of Handel and his music with as many people as possible. The completion of the house will transform our capacity to do this in many new and exciting ways.

As well as opening up the reclaimed historic ground floor and basement of 25 Brook Street, the plan will bring more of the upstairs floors in 23 Brook Street back into public use. These beautiful rooms retain their original Georgian panelling and shutters, and connect directly with the historic Handel rooms in the house next door at 25.

All this extra public space will allow us to provide our visitors not only with more opportunities to hear regular live performances of Handel’s work in the very place where it was created and first performed, but also to ‘roll back the mists of time’ and sense the presence of the extraordinary man and the life he led here between 1723 and his death in 1759.

These are just some of our plans:

  • Interpretation: Innovative and distinctive presentations in the re-opened rooms in 23 Brook Street will bring Handel and his music to life, and conjure up London as he would have known it. Subtle new technology – including the creative use of music and sound – will provide visitors with an immersive experience of the great composer’s genius, and of the place and times in which he lived.
  • Activities: A year-round schedule of Baroque concerts, talks, masterclasses, music performed in 18th-century costume, site-specific theatre and other unique events will bring the house alive. These will be devised to spread the love of Handel to new audiences, and bring visitors back time and again to learn about and enjoy this special place.
  • Learning: Our highly-respected programmes for particular groups – such as schoolchildren, students, musicians with visual impairments, members of the local community and talented young Baroque performers – will be expanded and strengthened. With our increased space and higher profile, we will be able to introduce an exciting range of new projects, led by top professional musicians and educators, and carefully designed to serve the interests and needs of as many special groups as possible.
  • The 18th-century kitchen: The re-created Georgian kitchen in the basement will be a wonderful new resource, enabling us to provide some highly original workshops for people of all ages based around 18th-century cooking.

The Hendrix Rooms:
The Jimi Hendrix rooms (located on the third floor), opened to the public in 2016, will remain broadly unchanged by the Hallelujah Project. The museum shop will be re-located to this floor. And the front door and staircase of 23 Brook Street, as used by Hendrix when he lived in the top floor flat, will be brought back into public use, along with one of the rooms on the second floor of number 23 that will be used for an exhibition on Hendrix’s legacy.

The Finances

The Business Model

Before embarking on the Hallelujah Project, the Trust had to ensure that the charity could remain financially sustainable without the income currently generated by sub-letting the lower half of the house to a tenant.

The board of trustees employed an independent consultant to work out a strong future business model, replacing this income stream by other means.

The plan agreed by the trustees consists of four parts:

  • Creating a new, smaller sub-let at the back of the building: The section of the building that faces Lancashire Court was not part of Handel’s original house. At basement level, it is currently used as a back entrance to the museum. The plan is to turn this portion of the building into a small, two-storey commercial unit to be sub-let to a tenant. Local property experts advise us that this would bring in approx. 30 per cent of the income generated by the current sub-let.
  • Setting up an enlarged Endowment Fund: This will be built up from a combination of an existing Endowment Fund, plus reserves that the charity has been setting aside for the purpose, together with a small percentage contribution from the Hallelujah Project fundraising campaign. The interest from this Fund will contribute approx. 45 per cent of the current annual income from the sub-let.
  • A modest percentage increase in admissions income: Once the experience of the house has been enriched, and the museum has greater street visibility, we expect income from increased admissions to generate additional revenue of approx. 12.5 per cent of the current sub-let income.
  • A new income stream from venue hire: The re-designed building will provide better facilities for private hire for parties and events outside the house’s opening hours (including a larger and more flexible dining area on the ground floor, and a small, modern kitchen in the basement). Income from private hires is projected to provide approx. 12.5 per cent of the current rental income

Detailed financial calculations based on this outline can be provided to potential donors on request.

The Costs

The Feasibility Study conducted on the project has calculated the construction costs of re- creating the building (including professional fees) at £3,050,000. An additional budget of £100,000 has been allowed for acquiring the furnishings and contents to present the rooms, plus a further £150,000 for new exhibitions and interpretation. This brings the total capital costs of the project to £3.3 million.

The Timetable

The aim of the Hallelujah Project is to complete the re-creation of the house and re-open it to the public by 2023 – the 300th anniversary of Handel’s arrival at the newly constructed building.

Key Dates:

  • 23 February 2018 (Handel’s Birthday): Hallelujah Project Launch
  • February 2018 to 2021: Fundraising campaign to meet the project costs (£3.3m)
  • 2018: RIBA 1 Feasibility Study and initial Planning Consent applications
  • 2019: Symposium at the Georgian Group, to gather together
    experts on 18th-century houses and music to inform the final presentation of the house.
  • 2019: RIBA 2-3 design and Planning Consent
  • 2020: The Handeliade (a festival of “all things Handel”) to be held at a privately-owned 18th-century country house and elsewhere in the Cotswolds
  • 2021: Tenders and RIBA 4
  • December 2021: The current sub-lease for the ground floor and basement of 25 Brook Street will expire, and the Trust will regain possession of these two floors
  • 2022: The building works will be carried out
  • 2023: The house will be completed and re-opened to the public in its full glory

Floor Plans

Lower Ground Floor

Ground Floor

First Floor

Second Floor

Third Floor