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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Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Kenwood visit: spring 1968 - part 1.



The man who took this photo, Richard Hall, has very kindly written with the fascinating story of that day. Here is part 1:

At that time I was serving with the Army in Germany. My brother (younger than me and a Rolling Stones fan) was going to be married. His wife to be was from a place called Middle Wallop in Hampshire and they were to be married in Andover. Myself and my wife Maureen were naturally invited and my brother said it was O.K to bring along our young German friend - Renate (this is pronounced Renata). Renate lived just a few hundred metres from us in Hildesheim in Germany and she was a big Beatles fan. We drove to Ostend and from there caught the ferry to Dover. Back then there was no motorway from Dover to London, no M25 and very few Little Chef Rest Stops. In order to get to Andover it was possible to either travel south via Sussex and then into Hampshire or, Travel north, get on to the North Circular Road (this would be replaced by the M25) get on to the A30 and carry on to Andover. Going through Sussex had only one disadvantage - you would be miles and miles away from Weybridge in Surrey - whereas by going north and getting on to the A30 you would wind up going right past Weybridge - Decisions Decisions Decisions - No decision - no mind making up - No problem - We are going North - but not to Alaska. We drove around the outskirts of London and at Staines we turned off the A30 and headed for Weybridge - what an absolute beautiful part of England. It was not too difficult finding St George's Hill and what really surprised me was that there was no security on the gate entering St George's Hill Estate. At that time I owned a white Simca 1000. I had been involved in an accident (no other vehicles involved) I skidded on some black ice and turned the vehicle upside down - that's another story. Any way I had to have one of the doors replaced - back then - you couldn't buy a vehicle door of any colour - all doors were black and had to be painted at a later date. My replaced door was still black and there were some bad scratches and dents on other parts of the car also - this information will become relevant later. As we drove on through St George's Hill - I didn't have a clue which house would be John Lennon's. Fortunately we met a lady who was walking her two small Scottish Terriers. I stopped and asked her "Excuse me please - could you tell me please, - where does John Lennon live?" She turned to me and said - "Oh Mr Lennon - he lives just around that corner there (as she pointed along the road ahead of us) His house is on the left - you will see it from the road - it is on a hill" "Many thanks" I said - 'You're welcome' the lady replied and we drove on. As we drove around the corner we could indeed see John's house on the left. On arrival at the gate, which was open, I proceeded to turn the car into the drive when Maureen said "STOP" Why?? I asked. "Dick" she said - "you are not driving this crap Simca 1000 with a black door, dents and scratches and in need of a paint-job - in through John Lennon's gate and on to his driveway - you will park the car OUTSIDE the gate". So I parked the car outside the gate and we left the car and began to walk up the drive - a slight hill towards the house. I needn't tell you that at this point my heart was pounding like mad at the thought - the hope the dream of meeting him (even now as I relate that day - the excitement can be relived). As we drew nearer to the house, all three of us noticed someone in an upstairs room - shaving. It was John Lennon - it really was. My God he's home. He's inside - we're going to see him. But - and there is always a but - you must go through the correct ritual in situations like this. I approached the door (this is at the back of the house) and pressed the doorbell. The door was opened by the housemaid who looked at us and asked "Yes?" I looked at her and said "I was wondering if Mr Lennon is home please" 'I will go and see' she replied as she turned around and went back into the house, leaving the door slightly ajar...

Part 2 to follow. Huge thanks to Richard for taking the time and trouble to share this.

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