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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Thursday, 20 August 2009

Kenwood: 1913 part 1.

On May 1st 1913, architect Theophilus A Allen submitted his plan for "Proposed House For Norman H Johnson Esq At St Georges Hills" to the Walton-on-Thames Urban Council for planning approval....and here, following a couple of months rummaging around various Home Counties archives, is the part depicting the ground floor area. What the plan shows is not only pre-Kenwood, but also pre-Brown House - the name eventually given to this inaugural incarnation.
The first thing you notice is how much smaller it was originally - the whole north-west section, which is what one pictures most readily when Kenwood comes up in everyday conversation (err...), simply didn't exist then: So no sunroom, no left-hand extension, and only one of those distinctive Hansel and Gretel windows. These days it's easy to forget that this is actually the back of the house - not a mistake you'd have made in 1913.
The next thing that is apparent is the way the ground floor has been divided up: On the one hand you have the servants' areas, namely the servants' hall, the kitchen, the pantry, the coal room (every room had a coal burning fireplace in those pre-central heating days), the scullery, the knives and boots room(!) and the fenced off yard. On the other hand there were the three grand rooms for the master of the house - the study, the drawing room and the dining room. And rarely the twain would meet. It's interesting that in the 50 or so years separating Norman H Johnson from John W Lennon, this type of segregation, as reflected in the room layout, had largely disappeared. Although John employed a housekeeper, a gardener and a chauffeur, none of them were live-in: The servants in Mr Johnson's time would have lived in the attic.
I've wasted yet another half hour of my life crudely altering one of Joe Baiardi's back yard pics from 2008 to give a rough idea of how this end of Kenwood might have been back then. Again, judging by the lack of windows on the plan, it would appear the back of the house was strictly functional, and somewhat inelegant - in marked contrast to the eccentric charm of the rest. Whatever, this is fascinating stuff, and I'll be posting the other portions of Mr Allen's work in due course.

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