Over the gate...

Designed in 1913 by Victorian/Edwardian/other architect Theophilus A Allen; John Lennon's house between 1964 and 1968; sunroom, attic and prisco stripe hibernice; Mellotron and caravan; Babidji and Mimi; mortar and pestle; Wubbleyoo Dubbleyoo; curios and curiosity; remnants and residue; testimonials and traces; (Cavendish Avenue, Sunny Heights and Kinfauns); Montagu Square; mock Tudor: Brown House: *KENWOOD*.

(Also available as a blog.)

Legal Blah: This blog is for historical research only, and is strictly non-commercial. All visual and audio material remains the property of the respective copyright owner, and no implication of ownership by me is intended or should be inferred. Any copyright owner who wants something removed should contact me and I will do so immediately. Alternatively, I would be delighted to provide a credit. The writing is by me, such as it is, unless otherwise stated, and this is the only Beatles related blog I am responsible for.

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Monday, 30 March 2009

Friday, 27 March 2009

Kenwood: grounds - 1965 & 2008.

I just realised that I have got my Bobs mixed up - these shots from the garden aren't Freeman, but Whitaker. Shows how much I know. Anyway, he has, quite artfully, managed to avoid getting Kenwood itself in any of these photographs. We can see from Joe's video how large it looms (that is the same wall, as it turns out), so this was clearly deliberate. I wonder if that was his idea, or if it was John who told him to keep the house out of it for some reason, obvious or otherwise.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Non-Brummer Striving...

I am going away for a few weeks' holiday, and won't be posting as much during that time. I'll check the email address regularly though, and if anyone sends anything of interest I'll put it up. Thanks to all who have written, and especially those who have contributed: it is much appreciated, and not just by me. Aside from the obvious ("new" John-era photos of any description), I'd like to see some more post-John pictures of the house, not to mention pre-John ones. As the above pic proves (thanks to Sara Schmidt), there is more out there somewhere, and I suspect a lot more. Let's hope it turns up....

Magic Alex.

Sometime television repair-man, Popular Electronics subscriber, and (alleged) designer of nothing boxes, artificial suns and DIY flying saucers, Alexis Mardas was a frequent visitor to Kenwood in 1967 and 1968. It was John who dubbed him "Magic", and he was clearly very fond of Alex for a while, showering him with gifts such as his Iso Revolta S4, a rather odd looking custom Vox guitar, and the talisman necklace. You could get the equivalent of about seven Isos for the talisman now - whowouldathunkit back then?

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

John at home: 1967.

I finally got a copy of the Beatles Book with Part 1 of the John visit. Here is an extract:
“The entrance to John’s estate is marked by a pair of huge wooden gates. We drove through them and up the path which winds around to the front of his house. My first impression was of a large mock Tudor mansion, lots of red brick, white walls and an iron-studded, oaken door. But this door was slightly different. It had been sprayed with paint aerosols in many colours. Over the large knocker was the crest of the Lennon clan.
John opened the door himself. After a quick “Come in,” he led the way into the house.
I was completely overwhelmed with the fantastic collection of instruments, pictures, furniture, antiques, flowers, stickers, models, books, which met my gaze.
On the ground floor there is a large entrance hall, lined with shelves of books stretching from floor to ceiling. To the right it leads to the kitchen, which is situated in the centre of the house, and to the left to two rooms, one very large, one small. The smaller room contained two pianos, one Broadwood, one Bechstein. The mahogany case of the Bechstein was fast disappearing under a psychedelic design, which was being painted on by two Dutch artists, Simon and Marijke. The right hand wall was was covered with a bookcase. In the middle of the room was a television set covered with stickers. The next room was very large with three beautiful, soft sofas in it. In one corner was an extraordinary Chinese screen cutting, and next to it the brass statue with the gorilla’s mask on it, and a pipe stuck in its mouth, upside-down. On one side of the fireplace were three turntables. John is very fond of putting on L.P.’s of noises these days, and one played constantly while I was there, broken only by bursts of All You Need Is Love.
On the shelves near the record player were arranged several of John’s gold discs, statuettes and certificates.
In the centre of the fireplace was a huge colour television.
We next went next door to the dining room. The centre piece was a beautiful antique table surrounded by chairs. The kitchen led off the dining room. There’s a most unusual stove in the middle of the room which consists of a table like surface, built of white tiles, in which are fitted the hot plates for cooking.
Next John took us upstairs to see his music studio. This is only a small room, stuck right at the top of the house. There’s a battery of tape-recorders along one wall; an organ and a piano along another, and on the third is a Mellotron. Then we went downstairs into the garden. On the way down we found a rocking horse. Julian climbed into the saddle, and John got up behind him to give him a ride. Downstairs again to the main lounge, where John flipped a new L.P. of sounds on to one of the turntables, then through the dining room again and into a small room which overlooks the garden terrace. It was full of “things you hang on the walls”, every bit of space was covered with odd caricatures of John, of the Beatles, faded Victorian photos, crosses, statues, you name it, John has already stuck it on a hook on his wall”. © Beatles Book Monthly, 1967.

I think this proves that the ground floor in 1967 was structurally pretty much the same as in 2006. Also, the location of these pics is more certain...

The "small" room I'd say, to the left of the entrance. (This is what Ken Partridge must have been referring to as the "Rumpus Room", not the sunroom). Compare the curtains (always good advice). The Fool-ish piano one also taken in this room, and then there is the pic of John in the bath-chair. This is often referred to as being from his library - but I reckon it could also be the same room - "The right hand wall was covered with a bookcase".

In 2006, this small room was being called the sitting room, and here is how it looked:

The colour pic of John and Julian would have been taken to the left, outwith the range of the 2006 pic, the sofa on the left in roughly the same position as the '68 family shot, the book wall to the right, and the piano wall behind the '06 photographer.

Or not.

Weybridge: Driving Test Centre, February 15, 1965.

John didn't get into Weybridge much. He went for a drink on at least a couple of occasions, but didn't enjoy it due to the non-stop requests for autographs. One other time was when he passed his driving test, a miracle according to everyone except his instructor. Once word got around, the area outside Kenwood was jammed with local car dealers displaying their wares. John came out to have a look and ended up buying a Ferrari. Thanks to Bruno Dupont for the clipping.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Yet more attic: 1967 & 2008.

And I think this pic of John in June, 1967 was taken in the little end bit of the attic (for want of a better description). Compare with Joe's video from about 06.07. The shape of the wall fits, and the window (though renovated) looks similar. UPDATE - It turns out it is the same location - actually where John's studio was situated...see later post for details.

Kenwood: rocking horse.

In issue 52 of the Beatles Book Monthly, a visit to the attic recording studio at Kenwood is described: following which, "on the way down, we found a rocking horse. Julian climbed into the saddle, and John got up behind him to give him a ride". 41 years later, Joe Baiardi's video captures the very same spot (at around 05.40).

24 hours: Alexandra Palace & Dorinish, April 29/30, 1967.

On 29 April, 1967, John and partner-in-tea John Dunbar were in the sunroom at Kenwood watching television. A programme came on BBC2 mentioning the 14 Hour Technicolour Dream, being held that evening at the Ally Pally as it's known. The two Johns had been up for several days drinking tea, and decided to jump in the psychedelic Roller and attend. This they did, though they didn't stay for long. Accounts differ as to whether John knew that Yoko was also there that evening, managing one of her Cut Piece events. The following day, the two Johns headed off to view Dorinish (see previous posts), which John, of course, later bought. Here are drawings, one of them made by John, the other by an architect commissioned by him, of the structure that John planned to have built there. He visited Dorinish again in 1968, accompanied by Yoko, Pete Shotton and Ronan O'Rahilly, founder of Radio Caroline. John later donated the island to a hippie commune, who did actually attempt to live there for a couple of years, before establishing a similar community in Wales. John's famous quote about living off the coast of Ireland, looking at his and Yoko's "scrapbook of madness" when they were 64 was inspired by Dorinish. Apparently, he never forgot about the island and was talking about re-visiting it and finally building a house there shortly before his death.(Still no idea what happened to the caravan, mind you).

Monday, 23 March 2009

Kenwood: more home movies...

John's cine-camera, and some screen grabs from some of his Kenwood home movies. I think that's his gardener in one of them. You can see more at Child Of Nature's blog HERE.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Kenwood: video footage, 2008.

Here it is: Joe Baiardi's video of Kenwood from last year. Incredible stuff - but one thing is clear - virtually nothing is now left inside Kenwood from John's time there. Still, you get internal views of what were Julian's room, the attic recording studio, the sunroom, the drawing room and the entrance, as well as a good look at the garden and the garage. It's as close as you, or I, will likely ever get to actually visiting the place. Than you to Joe, and I must point you in the direction of his band - The Fab 5. (One last thing - don't forget to hit the HQ tab to see it in high quality).

Kenwood: internal views, 2008.

Some screengrabs from Joe Baiardi's video of his visit to Kenwood last year. Recognise the panelling? Joe tells me he is uploading the video to YouTube, so watch this, or that space.

Corporation t-shirt.

Recent rambling on here has made me think about I Am The Walrus. This pic must have been taken around the time he was writing it. I am reliably informed that the t-shirt he is wearing advertises the Regent Petrol Company, which had a chain of UK petrol stations at that time: corporation t-shirt? Or...not.
Walrus was partly written as a response to a letter he received from a pupil at his alma mater Quarry Bank, who told John that his lyrics were now being studied there. John replied that 'The mystery and shit built around all forms of art needs smashing'. (By the way, some have said that the "elementary penguin" was poet Allen Ginsberg. Maybe, maybe not, but there will be a prize of a Yoko-esque imaginary 50 pence to the first person who can post in Comments what the direct Beatles connection is with the above pic of Mr Ginsberg (clue - it's clothing related)).Pete Shotton remembers a song he and John used to sing at Quarry Bank - "Yellow matter custard, green slop pie, All mixed together with a dead dog's eye, Slap it on a butty, ten foot thick, Then wash it all down with a cup of cold sick". Indeed! The tune, of course, came from the sound of a police siren. Here's what Mr Davies had to say...
"The first memory that always comes back is swimming in John's pool at his house in Weybridge. I'd gone to spend the day with him, but when I arrived, it turned out he had decided it was a day for not talking. I walked round his garden with him, not talking. Cynthia made lunch and we ate it, not talking. I sat with John in his cramped little den, under a sticker saying "Safe as Milk" while he watched children's television, not talking.
Then we had a swim, round and round in his pool, not talking, but while we were swimming, we suddenly heard the noise of a police siren floating up the hill from Weybridge itself. It was giving that familiar two-note wail - Ah, ahh, ah ahh, ah, ahh. John started playing with the two notes - humming them, while not actually talking.
Then he went inside, went to his piano, till he had turned the two notes into a song, or at least half a song. John was very good at half songs, quickly growing bored, often needing Paul to coax the other half out of him. A lot of their joint working sessions were like competitions - to show the other what they could do, or make the other do better".
© Hunter Davies, The Independent.

Sunny Heights: 60s and 2006.

More Sunny. The first is from MMT, and shows three of the Beatles playing footy. And one playing, if memory serves, a large white cello. Then some family pics of the Ringos, and one of him inside Sunny drinking. He had his own bar in there, rather splendidly, called The Flying Cow. Finally, a couple more shots courtesy of Joe Baiardi from 2006, including one of the area directly in front of the rear entrance of John fame.