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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Monday, 27 July 2009

Kenwood: the Brown House.

Kenwood is generally regarded as being a Tarrant house (ie one designed and built by master builder W.G. Tarrant). It was certainly sold as such last time it came on the market. However, my "research" (for want of a better word) has just turned up the information that it isn't a Tarrant house at all. In fact, it seems it was designed by Victorian (and Edwardian) architect Theophilus A Allen, and built by the firm of B Love and Sons, of Surrey. Plans were filed with Walton-on-Thames Urban District Council on 1 May 1913; specifically plan No 1215, for ‘Proposed House for Norman H. Johnson Esq at St. George’s Hills’. So Kenwood (or the Brown House as it was originally known) was commissioned by and built for this Mr Johnson. (I am still on the trail of these plans). In that case, where did the Tarrant business come from? Well, there is a connection - namely, the garage. This was built later - plans were filed on 16 June 1919; architects the macabrely monikered Pine-Coffin, Imrie & Angel and, here the connection - builder W.G. Tarrant, Son & Co. So the firm of Tarrant and son built the garage, but had nothing to do with the house proper. Interesting stuff. The list of former owners of Kenwood grows - Norman H. Johnson, manufacturer Kenneth Wood (UPDATE - I've since learned that he never owned Kenwood), an unknown American woman, someone or other called John Winston Lennon (whoever he was), songwriter Bill Martin and an unknown Swedish businessman...(By the way, the illustrations above are another Theophilus A Allen designed house at Woburn Park. There is something quite Kenwood-esque about those chimneys.)


  1. Ken,
    I had my suspiscions that it may have been the work of architect T.A. Allen. Although I was told he was an architect for homes in Pyrford.
    My RIBA friend told me that Joseph Clarke was building wealthy abodes during this time too in Weybridge and East Horsley, before W.G Tarrant and Frank Chown started building constructing homes there..
    Prehaps, B Love and Sons of Surrey were comissioned by Clarke rather Allen. Who knows?!

  2. This information comes via the research of the late Mavis Swenarton, who was the leading authority on the architecture of St George's Hill. It's definitely not a Tarrant house, and the original plans as filed name T.A.Allen as architect and B Love and Sons as builders. Allen worked out of a London office, and designed buildings all round the home counties. I wonder if there is a picture of him somewhere.

  3. That's interesting. W.G. Tarrant built the garage block with living accomodation above. I think Tarrant improved or enhanced the house that T.A. Allen built, or his builders: B Love and Sons of Surrey.
    I know of one other architect who worked as an architect during a time when St George's Hill, West Byfleet etc were being occupied by rich Victorian business men; his name was W.H. Seth Smith, he built 'The Red House' in 1885, which apparently was commonly refered to as 'The Brown House'by locals. It appears that there's a lot of confusion surrounding the exact details. But, I think we all agree that the house built by T.A. Allen was extensively improved, refurbished, extended and it appears now from the videos etc that further internal and external features of the house have been changed, apart from the chimney stacks and gable windows. Maybe teh W.G Tarrant man-hole covers (that became a signature for Tarrant) are still around Kenwood? ..well the garage block at least?! I think that John Lennon's Sunroom is similar in construction to many contemporary garden rooms, only with a pitched roof - dare I say, more Conservatory? As Lennon and family spent most of their time in the Sunroom, I think it's become the most excisting and interesting space to anyone interested in Kenwood and Lennon during this period. It will be throughly interesting once the' Beatles in 3D' site compile a collection of the various pictures, caritures, and items dotted around the Sunroom.. It appears also, that the Lennon's didn't use the rest of the house. It might be possible one day to build an exact scale-replica of the Sunroom?! ..possibly have it installed at Kenwood again!? Anyway, what I do know is that the transient living spaces of homes and abodes that the Beatles lived in is a fascinating subject, and one that deserves a blog as excellent and informative as this!

    Many Thanks

  4. Thank you for the kind comments. I have no idea about Tarrant manhole covers! As I mentioned in the post, Kenwood was definitely advertised by the estate agency in 2006 as being a Tarrant house. However, there is no evidence for that. One assumes an honest mistake (hmmmm) on their part, and that the Tarrant connection via the garage is the source of the confusion.
    Yes, do keep an eye on the Beatles in 3D blog. There isn't much on there now, but a lot of interesting stuff is on the way from that young man.
    Re. rebuilding the sunroom...stranger things have happened. As I've said before, if Kenwood survives (and I'm sorry to say there is a trend at the moment for houses on St George's Hill to be bought and then demolished, and a new house put up on the site), I could see a billionaire Beatles fan buying and restoring it at some point. Why not?

  5. ..cue Liam Gallagher.
    Pleased with his purchase of an apartment at The Dakota Building in New York; Mr Gallagher buys Kenwood and has it restored, black carpets; expensive maroon wallpaper; pictures; crucifix; mortar & Pestle; chess pieces; books and begere rattan sofa.
    Retro Ken Partridge decor everywhere, fixtures & fittings adorn Kenwood once more!
    Gallagher has a Sunroom built, here he has eveything replaced either in replica or original form, all the acutriments, even two 'Safe As Milk' stickers on the white cupboards next to the Lowe Opta telly. He looks down into his pool (with re-installed Magic Eye) and watches his son, Lennon splashing in the water. Liam looks across the wide expanse of garden and thinks where did he buried the stash last night?!!
    Former All-Saint wife - whatever-her-name making cheese on toast and retiring into the small room to read her copy of reader's digest.. ahhh, I bet Liam Gallagher would love that!? Why not someone encourage to not dream the life, but live the dream!


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  7. ..that evening at 8pm Liam picks up his 'Nothing Box'. He can't help staring at it until 12am

  8. You Gotta Roll With It!

  9. Ok, so that's why not. Fair enough - demolish it.

  10. Well, let's just say that if a Beatles fan with untold wealth or a Lennon-obsessed Pop-star purchases Kenwood he or she would have not only acquired a piece of Beatles history, but a house with it's own unequivocal history and varied past. It appears that the house is currently worth in the region of £5,000,000
    One assumes that this is merely a drop in the 'magic-eye' pools of money that some individuals have. I only hope that one day an inspired individual is lucky enough to venture into such an idea; and the Kenwood they take, it equal to the love of restoration they make!


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  12. Liam Gallagher claims he has been touched by Lennon's spirit and insists working at the Fab Four's Abbey Road studio home in London is a magical experience - two things his older brother fails to understand.
    Noel Gallagher admits he's not completely surprised by his brother's 'Lennon Devotion' -he once bought a rug that used to be in Kenwood. I'm quite sure that Liam Gallagher might be interested; even if Kenwood were demolished brick by brick. He would probably have it rebuilt to the same Lennon spec, including attic studio and 9 cats!

  13. magic eye up for sale on internet within this month photos are available

  14. magic eye now for sale on ebay

  15. I'm trying to find out more about Love and Sons, builders. Can anyone tell me anything about them? I've been to the Surrey Record Office and looked at plan 1215, which only states Love and Sons, no initial and no address. Any help would be very much appreciated.