Eleanor Rigby's grave goes up for auction

Fans get a chance to own a unique piece of Beatles history

Eleanor Rigby grave
(Image credit: Wikimedia)

If you've already got Ringo's drumstick and George's sitar string in your Beatles memorabilia collection, an unusual auction is offering the chance to go one step further and own Eleanor Rigby's grave.

The song of the same name, written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, appeared on the Revolver album in 1966 and was also released as a single. But it wasn't until 1984 that a headstone belonging to an Eleanor Rigby was spotted outside St Peter's Church, in Woolton, Liverpool, where a teenage McCartney and Lennon first met at a summer fete. The cemetery has subsequently become a pilgrimage site for Beatles fans.

Next month, the burial plot, along with a miniature Bible belonging to the the real Eleanor Rigby, will go up for sale at the Beatles Memorabilia Auction in Warrington, Cheshire.

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Hardcore Beatles fans will know that the inspiration for the song is a subject of hot dispute.

McCartney has acknowledged that the time he spent with Lennon in the graveyard, where the pair met to sunbathe or smoke together, could have had an influence. "It is possible that I saw it and subconsciously remembered it," McCartney told his biographer, Barry Miles.

However, the 75-year-old maintains that he came up with the title by combining the name of actress Eleanor Bron, who co-starred with the group in the film Help!, with a shop in Bristol belonging to Rigby and Evens.

Even though McCartney has distanced himself from the real-life Eleanor Rigby, Beatles fans who have delved into her life story have unearthed some eerie similarities with the song, which tells of loneliness and quiet despair.

Born in 1895, Rigby lost her father as a child and spent her youth "forced to eke out a living by helping her mother, a laundress," says the Daily Mail.

Although she eventually married, at the age of 35, she and her husband were unable to have children. In 1939, she died of a brain haemorrhage aged 44.

As well as the deed to the grave site, Beatles fans attending the auction will also get a chance to bid on the song's original score, handwritten by the band's producer, George Martin, in preparation for a recording session at Abbey Road studios.

Paul Fairweather, from auctioneer Omega, told the BBC it was an "incredible coincidence" for both lots to come up for sale at the same time. The auction house expected "fierce bidding from across the globe", he said.

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