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*.

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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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Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Kenwood: external and internal architecture, part6: east side.

And so, with grinding inevitability, to the front of the house. Is the room above the entrance, much evident in Joe's video, the same one seen in that shot of Julian and John on the bed? What about the front door? I'm pretty sure it's the same piece of wood as in John's time - except now it opens at the other side. And why not? This, after all, is a building where, over the years, windows mysteriously move 2 feet to the right, swimming pools re-appear at different angles, odd rumours abound...not to mention odd blogs and bloggers.
UPDATE - It's not the same door, which explains why it opens on the other side. The original one was replaced in the mid-90s, along with almost everything else. So it goes.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Kenwood: external and internal architecture, part 5 - south end.

The southern end of Kenwood, with that small room or sitting room or library or study or whatever it is or was to the bottom left. (UPDATE - it was, in actual fact, the den.) Above that in 2006 sat the study. There was, apparently, an upstairs study during the John-era, but it wasn't in this position. (I know I previously said it was, but it should be fairly obvious by now that at least half the time I am talking "pish".) (FURTHER UPDATE: This area was actually a dressing room during the Lennon era, and formed part of the master bedroom.) To the right of the '06 study is what appears to be another room, but which was actually a landing at the head of some stairs leading up from the ground floor. (FURTHER FURTHER UPDATE: Between these two, however, sat the en-suite bathroom.) Yet again, the excitement of all this is almost unboirable.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Kenwood: 1965.

Three Whitaker upgrades, from on or about the steps in the garden at Kenwood, 1965.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Hamburg: Jager-Passage Wohlwillstrasse 22.

These photos of John peering out of a Hamburg doorway as the spectral, see-through figures of Paul, George and Stu Sutcliffe move towards him are a pretty good argument for traditional photography. Everything about them reeks of a distant, long gone time and place. Familiar the images may be, but I've always found them haunting, and wondered where exactly they were taken. Well, the answer is Jager-Passage Wohlwillstrasse 22, and the doorway is still there. The pics here were part of a sequence, and you can see all of them and a lot more besides at the Savage Young Beatles site (there's a link under Friends & Neighbours). Also worth a look is Bill Hillman's Beatles' Hamburg site (again a link to the right). Jurgen Vollmer, who took the pics, asked John to provide some spiel in 1975: "(He) was the first photographer to capture the beauty and spirit of the Beatles (tho I say it myself)!" I'd say Astrid did that too - but fair enough. There is an interestingly dark quality to all the great Beatles in Hamburg photos - prescient, slightly unsettling but utterly fantastic. Or something like that, anyway.

Kenwood: first floor.

One of the more intriguing parts of Joe Baiardi's Kenwood video (and for those that are intrigued by these kinds of things, these are the kinds of things that intrigue them). I couldn't figure out which bit of Kenwood it shows, until I spotted the external window corresponding to the internal rocking horse shot. What we are seeing here constituted, in 2006, the study, dressing room, en-suite bathroom, and, through the door to the left, the master bedroom. Of course estate agent photographers earn their money by making everywhere look huge, but it is amazing to compare Joe's video with the shots from 2006. The '06 master bedroom looks tiny in the video. If the latest round of guesswork is correct (and I may be on the point of getting some definitive answers on that - watch this space) then the area in front of the left hand doorway, which comprised the en-suite bathroom in '06, could well have been the master bedroom in the John-era, with Julian's room through the wall on the right hand side.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Kenwood: signs, entrances and exits.

The first one here is purported to be the house sign from Kenwood (fairly obviously) during the John-era. It was sold at auction a few years ago, for around £10,000 (apparently). The story goes that John took it to Tittenhurst with him, whereupon he gave it to the gardener there. I emailed Lizzie Bravo to see if she recalls where it was situated at Kenwood, and interestingly enough she can't remember ever seeing it. So, either it's a dud, or more likely it was taken into the house by John to avoid it being "borrowed" by over-enthusiastic fans (and also, possibly, in an attempt to put people off the trail). The other two are the front gate (again etc) from both sides, circa 2008. I would have thought that there must be lots of fan photos of the gate during John's time, given that was where people hung out - but I've yet to see one. Odd. (The only pic I have seen is the one of Paul arriving in 1967, and I don't think that's a fan photo). Anyway, little danger of the current Kenwood sign being successfully purloined, as St George's Hill is CCTV-ed to the electronic eyeballs. (Not that one would attempt to purloin it. Ahem). Thanks again to Joe Baiardi for these.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Kenwood: external and internal architecture, part 4 - north-west side.

Continuing round the house, the drawing room or main lounge. An internal doorway connects this room with the dining room, as per pic number 2. (Or at least did - bearing Joe's video in mind). As we've seen, in 2006 this room was still remarkably similar to the John-era. However, a couple of points - first, I had thought that the north-west end of Kenwood was externally the same as 45 years ago. Inevitably, this is not so. Look at the last pic - it's hard to find a John-era shot of this side of the house where the west facing sitting or "small" room window can be seen. You can see it in this one, though, and it has clearly been moved in the intervening years. Does that mean the sitting room was bigger in the '60's? Hard to say, though I'd guess not. It was probably done for the same reason that the position of the swimming pool was altered, ie someone just liked it better that way. Secondly, there is a door in the drawing room/lounge leading to the outside terrace - hard to spot in the internal photos, but it is clearly there. Gripping stuff, yet again. Cough, splutter. Possible soilage.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Kenwood: 1965.

Two more Whitaker shots from the bottom of the garden at Kenwood, 1965 - and the first one printed the right way round this time. Thanks to Joe Baiardi for these.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Kenwood: boot up.

Escaping the attic...Glenn Marteney has sent in a much bigger and better quality (click on it) scan of John with his outsize boot. This boot, originally a Help prop, was said to be placed at the bottom of the garden , in the section overlooked by the sunroom end (indicated on the aerial pic above). Pure (and particularly idle) speculation on my part, but are those trees you can see in the boot pic the same as the ones circled on the aerial shot? Possibly...not. And what became of the boot? Thanks, in any case, to Glenn.

Kenwood: external and internal architecture, part 3 - more attic.

It's only when you view Kenwood from above that you get an idea of how it all fits together - it really is a very eccentric building. Back to the attic, and the odd double apex design that forms the roof, here highlighted at the northern and southern ends from the sides and above. Pauline Lennon's description of this upper area as it was when she lived there in 1967 is worth recalling at this point: "I was quickly installed in the attic suite. It consisted of a bedroom with wash handbasin opening into a small sitting room. Up here also was a large music room containing John's recording equipment where, to my amazement, several of the Beatles' much prized gold discs were strewn carelessly around as if forgotten. The music room also housed a huge collection of records. Additionally stored in the attic regions were a vast quantity of John's discarded clothes. Finally, the roof space itself housed the ubiquitous kittens which periodically emerged to run wild through the house soiling the top quality carpeting with 'little accidents'".

Monday, 22 June 2009

Kenwood: internal and external architecture, part 2 - attic area.

The first photo shows the windows on the landing beneath the attic where the famous shots of John and Julian on the rocking horse were taken. The distinctive shape of the window to John's left is quite evident once you've spotted it - and you can see a bit of the external drainpipe in the rocking horse pics too. It's useful to have that one pinned down, as it means it's now possible to analyse the internal section of Joe's video a bit more - I'll get on to that at a later date, at yawnsome length. Next is the west end, where two attic windows can be seen. As far as I know, there aren't any photos of John next to these, so the inset pic shows the internal view from Joe's video in 2008. Finally, the front of the house. The photos of John in his studio show no windows on that wall - I wonder if the ones evident here were later additions. Anyway, this all helps make some sense of the attic - though it remains unclear exactly how the space was laid out in the Lennon-era. I'll return to this, inevitably, in a future post. UPDATE: the studio was actually at the southern end of the attic, not where indicated above. See later posts.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Kenwood: summer, 1967.

Two more comped views (hence the blurring and asymmetrical edges) of the sunroom and west sides of Kenwood, dating from the summer of 1967. The sunroom side pic gives a tantalising glimpse into that large room on the north-west corner, overlooking the swimming pool. In 2006 it was being used as a games room, but it had been ripped apart once again by 2008 as Joe Baiardi's video shows. In fact, the whole of this end of the house has now been completely renovated and reconstructed. What was it used for during John's time? That, I'm afraid, is another one for the ever-growing list of as yet unanswered questions. (UPDATE FROM THE FUTURE - it was actually the garage, as seen in those photos of John, Julian and psychedelic Roller. John, as it turns out, had that whole end built in 1965, probably utilising Ringo's firm Brickey Builders; it didn't exist pre-Nasty.)

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Kenwood: front window, 1968 & 2006.

There are quite a few fan pics of John standing outside to the right of the front door at Kenwood. If you've ever looked at that big window there behind him and wondered what was on the other side, well here it...isn't, exactly. But this was what was on the other side in 2006, when that area, which lies at the foot of the main stairs to the upper floors, was deemed a family room. In John's time this was a breakfast terrace, and part of the kitchen.(See later dribbling.)

Friday, 19 June 2009

Swimming Pool: June, 1967.

This pic has been on a couple of times in different incarnations, but this is the most complete, uncropped version I've found so far. The colours seem a bit more natural here too.

Kenwood: entrance hall?

Anonymous left a comment suggesting that the bathchair photos could be from the front entrance. Pics 3 and 4 here are definitely of that location. The Beatles Book monthly had this to say about it - "On the ground floor there is a large entrance hall, lined with shelves of books stretching from floor to ceiling". As Anonymous points out, there is also the coat stand in the bath chair pics, which would suggest an entrance hall. However, again in BBM, this of the "small" room - "The right hand wall was covered with a book-case". Pete Shotton remembers there being a library where Cyn spent a lot of her time - presumably this room, and not the hall. The coat stand does suggest it is the hall - but John was eccentric enough to put a coat stand anywhere, and the small room was just off the front entrance in any case. But yes, it probably is the entrance hall.
Finally, another bit of trivia - here is Lizzie Bravo's pic with John again, and you can see his jacket hanging on the coat stand.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Master bedroom: 2006 & 1968.

Ploughing on, with the usual caveats about insanity/obsession etc etc (and I'd recommend listening to Revolution 9 at maximum volume as you attempt to read this gibberish)...the map shows the position in 2006 of the first floor rooms (UK nomenclature), with the master bedroom suite directly above the dining room. The second pic shows the '06 master bedroom window, and the same window externally circa 1966. (The perspective is a bit odd because, in effect, the two photographers would be facing each other). But what this means is that the other window in this room, circled in the third pic of John sitting outside, is not the same as the window in the fourth pic - the master bedroom circa 1968. Note the odd shape of this window - but the window in the '68 bedroom is flat. So this can't be the same room. In that case, where was the master bedroom in John's time? One possibility is that it used to be in the space occupied by the master bathroom in 2006. Again, compare the windows in the above pics. That looks like the same one to me. The wall corner looks identical too. If this is so (and I know that's a big "if") then the master bedroom in the John era would have been to the rear of the house, on the first floor, facing east, occupying what in 2006 was the bathroom and dressing room. The '06 bedroom would probably have been the bathroom. Confused? Join the club. I shouldn't have assumed it was the same layout in '68 and '06, given the amount of renovation that has gone on - I mean, even the titting swimming pool has been moved because it was at the wrong angle for someone. Oh to have such problems (and solutions).

Kenwood: internal & external architecture, part 1.

Kenwood, it is fair to say, is not your standard two-up two-down. The layout very much veers towards the eccentric. Add the fact that you have to be in the super-rich bracket to afford such a house, which means that renovating the place to the point of lunacy is almost a prerequisite, and the whole thing can become very confusing very quickly. I thought it might be interesting (and I could well be wrong about that) to do some posts attempting to relate the outside to the inside.
Regular readers of this blog will be quite familiar with how Kenwood looks inside and out, but connecting the two is a bit more tricky. So, here is how the sunroom and dining room fit together. There is no internal door connecting the two rooms - you go between them via a small internal hall (or at least did circa 2006). All straightforward enough. However - a new problem has, inevitably, arisen. Note the room above the dining room - this was the master bedroom in 2006, and I had assumed also the master bedroom during the John-era. (There is another window round the other side of the house, which is the one you can see in the internal bedroom pic inset). Note the unusual shape of the external "bedroom" window in the main pic. This window shows that the '68 master bedroom and the '06 master bedroom cannot be the same room. The next post will deal with this latest conundrum in more detail, whether you want it to or not.

Kenwood: garden steps, 1965, 1967 & 2008.

3 shots from the same location - the top of the garden steps, just below the dining room. The first two pics have been on here before, but I must confess it wasn't until Joe Baiardi sent me his great 2008 shot (new to the blog) yesterday that I realised this was it - compare the distinctive dark coloured bricks in the John/Cyn pic with the same in the fan shot from 1967. I'm struck yet again by the way that Whitaker managed to keep Kenwood out of the many famous photos taken on the steps during the 1965 photo shoot (see posts passim). The art of the photographer, or instructions from John? It's quite possible that in 1965 John wanted to keep images of his house out of the press. Anyway, thank ye yet again to Mr Baiardi for his generosity in sharing this stuff.