Friar Park is the 120-room Victorian neo-Gothic mansion previously owned by the eccentric Sir Frank Crisp near Henley-on-Thames and bought by the musician George Harrison as his new home on 14 January 1970, as he left his former home Kinfauns, in Esher.
Harrison installed a 16-track tape-based recording studio in a guest suite, which at one stage was superior to the one at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios. Harrison’s albums recorded there usually mention F.P.S.H.O.T., or Friar Park Studio, Henley-on-Thames. Besides records by Harrison or artists he produced, the studio was also used by Shakespear’s Sister to record their 1992 album Hormonally Yours.
Harrison immortalised the building in his song “Crackerbox Palace” (his nickname for the mansion, after Lord Buckley’s home in California). A further song, The Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll), was also inspired by the mansion’s history. Harrison loved tending to the gardens personally, and among the groundskeepers were his older brothers Peter and Harry.
The mansion was largely open to the public, until the murder of John Lennon in December 1980; shortly afterward, the gates were locked, and security features such as razor-wire fences and video cameras were installed. Despite these measures, an intruder broke into the residence in the early morning hours of December 30, 1999, attacking Harrison and his wife, leaving Harrison suffering a punctured lung, seven stab wounds, and head injuries.
Harrison’s widow, Olivia, and son, Dhani, continued to live in the mansion for months after Harrison’s death from cancer in November 2001.