Mary Austin has lived in Freddie Mercury’s former Kensington home for over 30 years.
The Queen star’s former girlfriend and “Love of My Life”, has kept the Georgian mansion exactly the same as the day he died on November 24, 1991. Until now.
This month, most of Freddie’s personal items were boxed up and taken to Christie’s auction house ahead of a major sale in September.
Mary has almost never spoken in public about her relationship with the star, nor about his home and her custodianship of his legacy.
She gave a rare interview this weekend, and gave glimpses of the man she knew behind the fame and public persona.
Freddie Mercury was ‘Intensely in love’ with final woman in his life after Mary
The couple were together for almost six years. Although the relationship was over by 1976 as Freddie explored his sexuality, they remained devoted for the rest of his life.
Mary remained his closest friend, the person to whom he turned to help him find a home, and the only person to this day who knows where his ashes lie.
Freddie bought Garden Lodge in 1980 and Mary says he fell in love with the Georgian villa on sight, telling the owner: “I will give you the asking price now if you take it off the market.”
However, there is a devastating reason why he did not move in for almost four years.
By the mid-1980s, Freddie was looking to settle down. He had enjoyed a passionate love affair in Germany with restaurateur Winnie Kirchberger and was about to embark on his final relationship with Jim Hutton.
He also, Mary says, found himself needing the stability and grounding security of a permanent home: “I think performing, and everything that being a successful musician brings, it can just wash over and through you, and leave you unsure of who you ever were.
“I think Garden Lodge gave him the chance to rediscover himself. He walked back into being who he was — the person that I knew — back in the 1970s.”
Garden Lodge, of course, would become the Queen’s star’s sanctuary as AIDS slowly began to take his strength and health.
Mary revealed that a favourite painting, Young Boy on a Sofa by Géza Vastagh, was angled so that bed-bound Freddie could stare at the beautiful young man as he, in turn, stared out at the star’s beloved gardens.
Freddie had filled the house with paintings and objects of art, famously bidding on new items from his bed in his final weeks.
His PA and friend Peter Freestone revealed the star requested to be carried from his bed the day before he died: “Freddie was downstairs in Garden Lodge on the 20th November, as he wanted to see some of his artworks for one last time… He commented on how and when he had acquired a few of the pieces. Of course, there was a quiet atmosphere in the house during those last days, but Freddie remained the Freddie we knew until the end.”