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, 10 September 2009

Kenwood: recollections.

As part of the current 09/09/09 frenzy, there have been some more or less interesting programmes on tv and radio here recently. One such, concerning the "Jesus" furore, featured recollections of Kenwood from Cynthia Lennon and journalist Maureen Cleave. (Thanks to Joe Baiardi for the great new shots of the sunroom/dining room and west sides, and to Sara for the Julian pic).

CL: The house was at the top of the hill, and John was thrilled to bits that it was at the top of a hill so we would have a little bit of protection, because at that point the fans were going mad & camping out etc etc. Actually we lived in the top flat - the servants' quarters, as it were, for one year virtually when we moved in while the rest of the place was being totally gutted & changed & redesigned & everything else. We couldn't believe it - we'd sit and look at everything: I mean, it was dead posh, in our terms. Once the builders had gone, and the great gates had been put up, the electric gates, then we had some peace & tranquility.

MC: (St George's Hill) is very woody, and inhabited by rich stockbrokers & the Beatles - a very odd place for them to end up, really. They used to call in on each other all the time, at any hour of the day or night, & they would listen to music, or play tapes & then they'd go off again. And then at about 2.30 in the morning they might decide to go to a nightclub in London, & they'd all get in the car & off they'd go. They were having quite a nice time. They had swimming pools & that kind of thing. And then John bought this gorilla suit, and he was really keen that they should all have gorilla suits and travel round behind the steering wheels of these various cars & visit each other. If you rang him up, he'd always ask what day of the week it was - he was genuinely interested to know...if you're completely marooned in Weybridge, it's quite nice to to have a bit of news of the outside world.

MC(cont.): His sitting room had yellow, tartan wallpaper. It had been done over by somebody, & it was panelled & very mock absolutely everything you can think of, & filled with the most extraordinary objects, like there was a suit of armour called Sydney, there were little boxes of flashing lights, and there was a huge compendium of games from Asprey's that John could open but not shut, & endless recording equipment & lots of books in costly leather covers. The possessions had sort of got the better of him. You just felt somehow that he was being smothered in all these purchases that he couldn't really understand the point of himself.

CL: When he was home (after a big tour) it usually took him about 2 or 3 days to actually come down to earth. It was very hard for all of us, really, because I was on one wavelength and he was on another. I was running a home, taking Julian to school and bringing him home and feeding him - I was doing the normal motherly things, let's put it that way.

(Julian leaving Heath House Infant's School in Weybridge ca. 1967).

CL(cont.): I know that (John) was feeling trapped after the Jesus Christ comments, & he needed to find space in his own mind & imagination. After having LSD put in our coffee when we went out for dinner, John tried it & found it fascinating, so he started taking it virtually daily. It's like living with an alcoholic - when they're sober they're great, but when they're drunk it's very hard to communicate with them.


  1. Every time I see a picture of Julian from this period it breaks my heart. Such a sweet little boy who didn't have a clue what was going on in his daddy's head.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to transcribe this Sean, makes for an interesting post. Would be great to get an interview with Cyn. I'm sure you have tried?