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, 22 October 2009

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...

8 comments:

  1. Cool man, love the detailed story dude.. quite evocative of what may of happened that day:)

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  2. great job!!! the love in what you're doing can be clearly felt...
    waiting for part 2!

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  3. Fantastic story. I felt like I was there.....

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  4. Have to keep re-reading this beautifully evocative tale of a perfectly strange Summer's Day.

    What a cast of characters...but, who is the French Seamstress?

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  5. Great work!
    I love this website, many thanks :)

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  6. Great reconstruction of the day! Thanks a lot!
    One thing caught my attention: the putting stickers on the TV episode. This is described in Cyn`s newer bio where she complains that she spent a long time painting the TV only to find it the next day covered with stickers by John, who came home in the middle of the night in some state and ignoring her effort destroyed it this way. Here you have it being done during the day and Cyn is even around to object which she might not have done with all the visitors around to not make a scene in front of them (a bit of my own fantasy inserted here).

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  7. Hello Ken. I think the two episodes are different. Cyn was talking about the sunroom tv, whilst this happened in the den - John had televisions in most rooms at Kenwood. John putting the stickers on in the den is specifically mentioned in Beatles Book issue number 51 which has part 1 of the account of their visit.

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  8. Excellent attention! It was just a little test.
    (actually not, but I wish I could say that! ;-))

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