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*.

(Also available as a blog.)

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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Correspond via: kenwoodlennon@googlemail.com

Friday, 30 October 2009

Kenwood: more back wall, June 1967.

Tammy has uncovered a new June 29, 1967 variant - John sitting on the lawn by the back wall beneath the sunroom...so that's another one to add to the ever growing tally.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

EMI Studios: 30 July, 1968.

Nothing whatsoever to do with Kenwood, aside from the fact that they are about to make a stab at Hey Jude, written, as even people who have never heard of the Beatles know, by Paul on his way down to St George's Hill to visit Cyn and Julian. The footage from Experiment In Television: Music! is fascinating, if over familiar - presumably a new verite (not to mention lucrative) version could be compiled from all the existing film stock, assuming it does. At any rate, this is how they were arranged, left to right, in studio 2 that evening - something that is unclear from the footage itself. George is present and correct, though in the documentary he is up in the control room, generously offering "two crates if you do Twist and Shout". "Sources" (infallible) say he had absented himself "from the body of the kirk" following yet another free and frank exchange of views with JPM over the merits of using answering phrases on the guitar throughout the verses. Presumably, if that is true, this image was pre-"rumble".

Kenwood: 2006 & 1967 - back wall.

Another shot from 2006, showing the pool area. In 1967, this was a lawn, and John was pictured sitting in front of the arch evident on the '06 pic. It's clear that part of the back wall was demolished and re-built to accomodate access to the new pool in 1995 - compare with the section over John's shoulder in the June '67 photo; and a great deal of earth must have been shifted in order to level the old, raised pool space.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Kenwood: December, 1968.

Another large scale photo session took place on December 1, 1968, from which these photos, taken immediately outside the sunroom overlooking the grounds, are drawn. Kenwood, of course, was practically empty by this point. Cynthia and her mother had spirited away most of the fixtures and fittings when they finally moved out shortly before the divorce was finalised. Much of this was sold by Cynthia in the early 1990s over the course of 3 auctions at Christie's in London.
According to Les Anthony, John's chauffeur, when John and Yoko moved back in at the end of November '68, they retreated to the 1st floor bedroom and spent much of the time there. He says that a small kitchen was constructed upstairs to facilitate the general lack of movement. Well, maybe so. Albert Goldman claimed that "for decor they stuck up their nude photos framed in a couple of condoms filled with piss"...shurely shome mistake?!

Friday, 23 October 2009

Sunny Heights: for sale - January, 1969.

And after all that nonsense, back to this: Sunny Heights, as advertised for sale in the pages of Country Life magazine, January 23, 1969. "Recently the subject of very considerable expenditure"...you are not joking, mi amigo.
John was ostensibly living here at this time, as Kenwood had just been sold. Or had it? I've recently seen pictures of Kenwood labelled April, 1969, which have John's white Roller outside the front entrance. When exactly was the place sold? And when did John stop living there?
Anyway, Sunny Heights didn't find a buyer for at least a year - and in fact, Ringo returned in September, 1969 for a brief period, before moving to Highgate in London on December 5.
I think this pic is also from inside Sunny, ca. 1968:

Many thanks to Sentimentalist for these.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Kenwood: June 29, 1967 - overview part 2.

The afternoon has begun to shade into evening. Following a complete change of wardrobe for John, who is now also wearing the badge last seen on gorilla head, the group decamp to the upper regions of Kenwood. John is pictured in three attic locations - the "living" room, the studio and in one of the recessed windows overlooking the eastern portion of the grounds. In his studio, he spends some time demonstrating the various weird and occasionally less-than-wonderful noises that can be made. After a few minutes messing around with the Mellotron, he shifts seats and picks up his old Gibson acoustic J-160, recently given a swirling paint job by Simon and Marijke. Staring into the camera, he hits the strings and turns the pegs, roughly tuning before bashing out part of a song. After some time, everyone heads out of the studio, back through the small living room, and into the short corridor containing the stairs:

Upon a landing below the attic, John has placed a rocking horse. He stops, climbs onto it with Julian, and several more images are captured. They go into one of the first floor bedrooms. The decor, in common with much of Kenwood, is heavily floral. On the bed lie two large stuffed toys, including the panda given to John by a fan before a concert in Manchester some years previously. Leslie Bryce jams some fresh film into his camera, and reels off a few more photos.
By now, word of the draconian jail sentences handed down to Messrs Jagger, Richards and Fraser will have filtered through. As evening draws on, and with the light beginning to fade, a final set of pictures is taken in the drive. John's Rolls has been moved out of the garage. He stands beside it, and then walks round to the front. Kneeling, he looks back at the camera, and then suddenly places his glasses on the ground and lies sprawled, body half underneath the car. With that, Bryce packs his camera up, thankyous and goodbyes are exchanged, and the session draws to a close:

Here endeth the Jackanory. In the Beatles Book monthly account, the "jacket" photos by the pool, clearly taken in broad sunshine, are identified as the last shots of the day. However, in the attic photos the light outside seems to be fading, and this is even more marked in those subsequently taken in the drive with the Rolls (see HERE), so I think they are probably the final ones. But I could be wrong about that.
The precise number of photos taken on June 29, 1967 is unknown. Apparently, the various colour transparencies were made as one-offs, and sent out to contemporary magazines; it's quite possible more will come to light as time passes.

Incidentally, the coloured shirt sported in a lot of these pics made at least two more public appearances (in addition to the AYNIL session); John wore it on the Maharishi express to Bangor over the August Bank Holiday weekend, and it is also to be seen in MMT, notably as part of John's Eggman ensemble:

Kenwood: June 29, 1967 - overview part 1.

The following is an attempt to recreate circumstances surrounding the extensive photographic session at Kenwood on June 29, 1967, and is based on various contemporary sources. It is written in the present tense for the hell of it. For reasons which I'll go into in the next post, the story of the visit in the Beatles Book monthly does not seem to tally exactly with the photographs taken that day. The photos in this post are simply meant to be a representative sample to illustrate events; most of the others are elsewhere on these pages, for those that might want them.

Thursday June 29, 1967 dawns mild over St George's Hill, the promise of a very warm day to come, with wispy clouds in the upper atmosphere.
Mid-morning J. W. Lennon Esq. rises to breakfast with family and house guests Simon and Marijke; these two members of art and design collective the Fool are currently engaged on the week-long task of painting John's favourite piano, an upright Bechstein model reportedly procured from Aunt Mimi. The three are attired much in keeping with time and place: John in black trousers, trainers and multi-patterned shirt, together with ever-present talisman necklace, Simon in white sweat-shirt emblazoned "Jesus Saves" (John will soon be spotted in Greece sporting a similar t-shirt), Marijke with long orange and green striped dress; in the case of the latter two, these are work clothes, covered in paint due to the ongoing job in hand. The day to come is discussed.
John is to take part in a photo shoot around house and grounds, and a French tailor will arrive to fit him with new, custom designed clothes.
Elsewhere, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Robert Fraser are all to be sentenced, having just been found guilty of various drug related misdemeanours. Of the three, Fraser is a regular visitor at Kenwood, usually in the company of John Dunbar: The pair of them constitute John's main "acid buddies" these days, along with Terry Doran and George; endless time in the grounds staring at trees, or up in the attic, messing with the tapes and laughing. Other items in the news (John is a voracious consumer of newspapers) include unrest in the Middle East, and the ever present war in Vietnam. It is possible that radio reports concerning the death of actress Jayne Mansfield (with whom John had a momentary dalliance a few years previously) are in the air.
Come the early afternoon, and Beatles Book editor Johnny Dean together with photographer Leslie Bryce arrive at the spray-painted front door, having been led to Wood Lane by Pattie and George following a chance encounter on Esher High Street. Julian appears in the hall, and decides that he is going to be part of proceedings. As they move through the house, John plays records, alternating albums of "noises" with the recently recorded All You Need Is Love. At one point, Cynthia prepares a meal of ham, sweet corn and trifle, which is served in the dining room.

An initial set of photos is taken in the den; using a design based upon John and Cynthia's star signs and the tarot, Simon and Marijke decorate the piano, whilst in the opposite corner furniture is swathed in protective white sheeting. John films proceedings on a small cine-camera, before adding stickers to the casing of a television sitting in the middle of the room. Passing through the lounge, where an odd gorilla-headed timepiece (complete with "I Still Love The Beatles" badge) is captured on film, the group continues on to the north-west extension (actually a huge garage and home to John's newly psychedelicised Rolls Royce) overlooking the swimming pool. A number of shots are taken before everyone walks back through the house, and outside to the pool itself; John perches on a small diving board immediately above his Eye Of Knowledge mural, and plays with the water filter whilst Julian runs around:

Moving back indoors, he nips upstairs to change clothes, donning the same Fool designed none-more-1967 shirt worn the weekend before at EMI studios for the Our World broadcast of AYNIL. The talisman necklace is joined by a distinctive triangular pendant. John initially sits outside the sunroom, occupying his favourite perch atop a wall overlooking the extensive gardens, before moving to the lawn just below:

Following the same path seen in Joe Baiardi's video, everyone heads towards the foot of the hill. By the large oak tree near the bottom of the path, there is a small garden chair. John sits in it for a few minutes, lost in thought. He suddenly jumps up, and they follow the path to its end, past a bird-table, where two outbuildings are situated - a greenhouse and a potting shed, in and around which John is then photographed:

Whilst all this has been going on, the French girl arrives with John's new clothes. The party return to the house, where John lies on the sunroom couch perusing a recent copy of International Times; the cover features a tribute to the 14 Hour Technicolour Dream event, held at London's Alexandra Palace on 29 April 1967, which he himself attended. The seamstress sits opposite putting the finishing touches to a black jacket. John jumps up and tries it on in front of the bric-a-brac strewn shelving set against the north sunroom wall:

Because it is such a pleasant afternoon, John, Julian, Johnny Dean and Leslie Bryce immediately go back outside and down the steps, where more photographs are taken, this time on the near side of the pool.
Another change of clothes is decided upon, and on the way to the first floor bedroom, with its large dressing room, John and Julian are pictured sitting in a bath chair in one corner of the dark, book-lined entrance hall:

Like it or not, part 2 follows...

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

St George's Hill: part 2 - 19th century v. 1964.

Two maps of the Hill (click on them for a better look). The one on the left dates from the 19th century, when the land was divided into plots; there appear to have been only around 4 houses at that point, and obviously, pre-Tarrant, these would have been nothing like the grand residences of nowadays. The map on the right dates from ca. 1964, the year John moved into Kenwood. It's hard to match one with the other, until you rotate the 19th century one:

Kenwood is situated in the middle of what was plot number 13. It's clear why Old Avenue is so called - it corresponds to the long tree-lined road on the older map. The other item of non-Beatle related interest is how Camp End Road got its name - because there was a Roman Camp in that part of St George's Hill.
(Btw Sunny Heights is on the outer curve of South Road nearest South Ridge, which would put the site somewhere near the edge of the forest on the 19th century rendering.)

Monday, 19 October 2009

St George's Hill: part 1 - Cavendish Road entrance.

Several people have written to ask if it is possible to get into the estate where Kenwood is situated. Unless armed with an invitation, or on business of some kind, then the answer is almost certainly not!
This is the entrance nearest to the house. If you are a resident, or member of the local golf or tennis fraternities, then you have a pass which gets you straight through the security gates. Anyone else has to speak to the guard - and, whilst friendly, they don't tend to look favourably on ambulatory requests, Beatles-related or otherwise...

...which is all plus ca change; St George's Hill's earliest claim to fame rests on the fact that proto-hippies and free the land types the Diggers attempted to establish a commune here in 1649, only to be seen off after a few months of legal to-ing and fro-ing by local landowners. In recent times, there have been concerted efforts to open the Hill up to public access, thus far unsuccessful.
In the 1960s, however, security was more lax; there were no gates at the entrances, and, whilst you might be challenged by local residents, it was quite possible to walk onto the estate - hence the various fan photos of the house.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Kenwood: dining room, 1965.

The location of the 1965 family shots of John, Cynthia and Julian can now be definitively established, thanks to the above, uncropped photograph. Although it's not perfect quality, the two framed pictures can be seen clearly enough to establish the identity of the right hand one; compare with the following, sold at auction in 1996:

In fact, both of the reproductions in the first photo were sold by Cynthia in the same auction as a job lot. They are in the style of Basilus Besler, and, obviously, have a botanical theme. Here's a closer look at the visible portion in comparison - clearly the same picture:

We can pinpoint this as the dining room thanks to the note from Cynthia which accompanied the lot, stating that the pictures (which are actually colour) were originally bought by Ken Partridge, and were hung in the dining room. Estimate in 1996? £150-250.
Many thanks to Jeannette and Lynn Mayes for tracking the uncropped picture down.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Ken Partridge plans: 1964, part 4 - entrance area.

The final section of these 1964 Ken Partridge plans - and the reason they were filed; to get planning permission for the entrance canopy, familiar from many fan photos taken just outside the front door.
Ron de Bruijn has sent the following shot, which gives the best view of this area thus far; note the Sgt Pepper cutout of Stuart Sutcliffe has found its way to Kenwood:

I've previously questioned whether the familiar shots of John and Julian sitting in the bath-chair were taken in the entrance hall, mainly because the following fan shots, taken a good 6 months or so apart, show identical details which the bath-chair photos don't share. However, the Partridge plan makes it clear why - the entrance hall was quite spacious, and so the area covered in the bath-chair photos cannot be seen in these pics:

Instead, the bath-chair shots were taken in the far corner:

Thanks again to Ron for sharing his great archive.

Friday, 9 October 2009

May 1967: part 2.2 - Hille House & yet more sunroom detritus.

Speaking of odd coincidences - the above photo of the Beatles at Hille House, Brian Epstein's private office, taken in May 1967 (though not, I think, on May 18). Mark Lewisohn has been in touch, and he reckons the picture in the previous post was also taken in this location. That makes sense, so I dug out the above photo to illustrate - and realised that this was the very one that Ken "BZ" Wood was referring to in his comment on the TeenBeat post.
Thus, this also provides a closer look at another bit of John's sunroom junk.

May 18, 1967: part 2.

Another photo from May 18, 1967; John, George and Ringo either just before setting off to meet Paul for their stroll round the Serpentine, or, obviously, just after the Hyde Park session had finished. It was quite possibly taken at Sunny Heights or Kinfauns if the former, and it could be Cavendish Avenue if the latter. (It might even be Kenwood, though nothing looks familiar.)
UPDATE: It's Hille House. See next post.

Kenwood: TeenBeat magazine - April, 1968.

Ron de Bruijn has sent in some more material, this time from a 1968 fan magazine: TeenBeat. The cropped, lo-res colour sunroom shot is familiar, but it's great to finally see a good quality scan. ("Kenwood porn" anyone?):

Of course, I couldn't resist comping both of the above to gain the widest perspective:

The pick of the pics has to be the following, however. I'd never seen this poolside variant before - and I'd guess that since its publication in April 1968, and with the obvious exception of those fortunate enough to own a copy of the magazine in question, no-one else has either:

It's another great shot, and begs all the usual questions. (Again, these are all quite hi-res, so click on them for the big picture.)
Many thanks to Ron for sharing this material.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Kenwood: Pepper sleeve/ sunroom detritus.

One of the most obvious objects on view atop the sunroom shelves in June 1967 was what appears to have been an ornate candle holder of some kind. Blog reader Sergey has sent an email pointing out that this very item is part of the Pepper sleeve, situated on the ground to the left of the Rolling Stones doll, and he's sent the above to illustrate.
And so it is. I certainly hadn't spotted it before. In fact, that little corner of the sleeve has at least 3 Kenwood related articles: the "candle holder", the portable television and the statue. Lewis Carroll's head (not literally) also ended up gracing the entrance hall bookshelves...

...and at least one other cutout found its way to Kenwood too, which I'll deal with in a forthcoming post.
Funny how you stop seeing the over familiar. Thanks to Sergey.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Tittenhurst Park: part 2 - Weeping Blue Atlas etc

Sentimentalist has forwarded some intriguing shots of the grounds at Tittenhurst. The above photos show the famous Weeping Blue Atlas cedars on the front lawn; there are also a few people, presumably included to give a sense of scale.
To be serious, though, I don't know who the non-Fab element are in these shots. I'd guess at Ringo-era, however, as in the following that certainly looks like one of the Sunny Heights lions:


Muchas gracias to Sentimentalist for sharing these photos.

Tittenhurst Park: part 1 - Three Virgins.

As the name of the blog might suggest, Tittenhurst isn't really my "thang". However, I've recently received some related material that is of interest. First the above; a great shot of John and Yoko in the room that, I think, went on to become one half of the "Imagine" room, following renovation in 1970. (A partition wall was knocked down to make one larger space).
Plenty of Kenwood detritus is spottable, not to mention endearing evidence of the pair's "Let It All Hang Oot" policy (are those lithographs of an erotic nature hanging there?).
Speaking of which: Who was the Third Virgin?; the identity of the figure seen standing beside John and Yoko above the fireplace has been posited as Peter Brown, and even Macca. In fact, Yoko herself cleared this one up in an interview (not with me, I hasten to add)...
YO: "(Regarding) the 'Two Virgins' photo with another person standing beside us. The only one I know is the one that a professor sent to us at the time, saying he liked the Two Virgins photo idea so much that he joined in. He was standing naked in the picture next to us! John thought it was funny, I didn't like it that much. The professor looked just as 'au naturel' as us, meaning, you knew he came from the preGym generation! Other people probably must have done it, too. This one the professor sent us was a huge photo -the size of a large poster- with a decent frame around it. I don't know where it went. We lost it."

I also have another pic of the same room as above, this one taken, I think, before John and Yoko bought Tittenhurst; it is interesting to compare. (There is a marked lack of full frontals, for one, or possibly several, thing(s)).

Many thanks to Ron de Bruijn for the first photo, and the Yoko quote.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Kenwood: a little light reading, part 2.

I've long been puzzling, off and on (mainly off), over the identity of the left-hand volume (seen above on display in the sunroom). It does seem to have been placed there deliberately; John was never a man to let an opportunity for a plug go by, and so the fact that the other book, a contemporary U.S. edition of his collected works, is on display mid-photo session is hardly surprising.
But what was the left-hand one? I thought it may have been something to do with calligraphy (given the cover, and the fact that John (not even ostensibly) and Cyn (actually) both studied lettering at art school), but then Ron de Bruijn sent me a very hi-res scan of the above photo. We blew up that corner, and after much squinting (and a moment when the title appeared to be something to do with perverts), there it was: Proverbs For Daily Living, published in 1967 by the Peter Pauper Press:

It's a collection of aphorisms, arranged according to date, from January to December. To illustrate, here is the page which corresponds to John's birthday:

As ever, odd coincidences are there for those who wish to find them:

So, there we have it. Apparently, he also had illustrated adages of a similar type hanging on the walls of the kitchen. (Why did John chose to highlight this particular book, assuming he did? At a wild guess, it may have been something to do with Mimi; a lot of the proverbs in the book sound like Mimi.)

34 Montagu Square: then & now.

34 Montagu Square; home, though possibly at different times, to Ringo & Maureen, Jimi Hendrix, Lil Powell, and John & Yoko. Sentimentalist has sent me some shots ca. 1965. In the following set of photos, you can see the ground floor living room in that year, and the same area in 2002:

These were taken in the basement, in a room opposite the kitchen:

The same area in 2002 HERE.
And some more shots taken in the kitchen, and upstairs:

There is a very interesting set of photos taken inside the flat in 2002, available HERE.
In particular, THIS one, as the room shown past the hall was the location of the Two Virgins sleeve photo.
Planning permission is currently being sought to affix a blue plaque to the exterior - with only John getting a mention. Many thanks to Sentimentalist, who runs the Little Willow & It's Only Love sites (links under Friends & Neighbours).