What to buy for the Beatles fan who has everything? The right to be buried on top of Eleanor Rigby in a Liverpool graveyard, perhaps.
Deeds for the grave of the woman who may have been the inspiration for the Beatles song go on sale at an auction next month.
Eleanor Rigby was buried in St Peter’s churchyard in Woolton, Liverpool, where Paul McCartney first met John Lennon at a church fete.
A certificate of purchase and a receipt for the grave space will be sold in a lot with a miniature bible, dated 1899 and with the name Eleanor Rigby written inside. They are expected to sell for between £2,000 and £4,000.
They will go under the hammer alongside the original handwritten score for the song, which is expected to fetch £20,000.
Paul Fairweather, from Omega Auctions, which is selling both lots, said: “Each item is fantastic, unique and of significant historical importance in itself so to have both to come up for auction at the same time is an incredible coincidence and it will be exciting to see how they perform. I expect there to be fierce bidding from across the globe.”
Eleanor Rigby’s name was immortalised in the song which was released as the B-side of Yellow Submarine in 1966.
McCartney, who wrote the lyrics about a woman who is “wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door”, reportedly said it was simply a name that came to him. But it later emerged that it was inscribed on a headstone in the graveyard which he and Lennon used to regularly use as a shortcut.
Deeds for the grave space, purchased in October 1915 by Eleanor’s grandmother Frances, were discovered by a relative when the estate of two of Eleanor’s half-sisters was left to the family
When someone buys a grave space they are usually granted an “exclusive right of burial” for 99 years.
Once the rights have expired, no further burials can take place until the grave is purchased again. The law allows the disturbance of human remains after 75 years from the date of the last full burial in the grave. The last person to be buried in Eleanor Rigby’s family grave was laid to rest in 1949, 68 years ago. Theoretically, then, whoever buys the deeds could be buried alongside the Rigby family in seven years’ time.
The score, handwritten in pencil, is signed by producer George Martin and McCartney and notes that the song was to be recorded in Abbey Road Studio number two and was to include four violins, two violas and two cellos.
The two lots will be among items on sale at the Beatles Memorabilia Auction to be held in Warrington on 11 September.