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, 1 October 2009

Kenwood: north-west end - layout, part 1.

Many details are still unclear, naturally, but in recent weeks most of the big questions regarding the Lennon-era layout of Kenwood have been answered, thanks to the 1964 Ken Partridge plans, and one or two "new" uncropped photos. The biggest remaining mystery concerns the north-west end of the house, as seen above; it constitutes (or constituted) a fair chunk of real estate, but what exactly did it contain?
The answer might just surprise you. But probably not.
First, let's remind "us-selves" of the changes this section underwent during the '95 renovations. The whole area from the sunroom on was demolished and re-built.
Compare the following:

Notice also the comparative sizes of the old, Tarrant built, and new, '95-era garages above. Next, take a look at this, very familiar, picture:

"So what?" I hear you mutter, "This was taken in the garage, right?"
Well, yes and no. The old garage looks too small to accommodate a Roller and a Mini, and it occurred to me that some other details didn't quite fit, either; eg where is the canopy that can be seen in the John photo? So I had a look again at the colour aerial shot...and sure enough, there is a canopy attached to the north west extension...

The clincher would seem to be this '95 plan (pre-renovation), which does what the Partridge plan doesn't - namely, shows the sunroom (albeit the '95 version) and the north-west extension (ditto), canopy in place, and labelled "GARAGE":

So what might well have lain behind that window overlooking the swimming pool was one or other of John's automobiles. This would make sense, for several reasons; John, at that point, had a weakness for cars - at any one time he owned at least 3, including the Rolls. Cynthia also had at least one. It's possible the big extension housed John's "wheels", and the much smaller old garage was home to Cyn's. It might also explain why this part of the house doesn't show up on the Partridge plans - because, applying Occam's razor, it simply didn't exist at that point. John could have had the extension built precisely because he needed more storage space for his cars, the unenvironmentally sound little moptop that he was. (UPDATE - The account of the June '67 visit to Kenwood in the Beatles Book monthly has this to say at one point: "John led the way to the massive double garage at the right hand side of the house". That has to refer to the north-west extension; the old Tarrant garage is clearly very small.)
It would also explain why the Tarrant garage was demolished and rebuilt in '95 - because what had been the main (extension) garage was being converted to a games room, thus making the construction of a bigger "external" garage necessary.
As to when the original sunroom and extension were constructed, it's hard to say - but presumably during the huge round of renovation that accompanied John's initial purchase of the property; late 1964/early 1965. More on this bit, inevitably, to follow...


  1. Your quite right, that whole area was a large garage. It could space up to six cars if I remember correctly. The other garage only had the capacity of one car. On the side of the extention building there were also a few storage rooms. intrance to which you gained from the passage way between the main building and the extension. In the passage way there was also another entrance into the main building.

    From the pool room there was also a staircase leading up to one of the storage rooms.

    Lived in this house for 11 years between 1983 to 1994 before the large renovation so am quite farmiliar with the interior construction and layout.


  2. Hello!

    Thanks for confirming that. So an actual owner of the place! Were you the chap who was the subject of a local news item, circa mid-80s, concerning the pool? Could you drop me a line, in any case, via the blog email, as I'd really like to ask you a few questions if that's ok.



  3. We lent the psycadelic eye to the Liverpool festival in 84 or 85. Then the eye was just left in the field and no one took care of it. The strange thing was that no one informed us that it was left behind. We thought it would go to the liverpool museum or something, but it ended up in the field for a few years till someone found it and restored it.
    I'll send you an email.