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.)

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Thursday, 24 December 2009

Kenwood: June 29, 1967.

A slight variation from THIS sequence (the photographer has moved a bit), and what I reckon was one of the final photos taken on June 29, 1967.
Blog activity will be much reduced next year due to the demands of reality, which was largely avoided this year. However, comments and contributions to the header email address will be welcome as usual, and there are at least a couple of interesting things in the offing; the long promised 3D reconstruction of the sunroom is nearing completion, and there should be some footage of Kenwood dating from the 1980s on the way too. Doubtless other stuff will arise in the course of time.
In the spirit of the above pic, I too intend to remain prone as the Yule grinds its way to a climax, and so, until next time, whenever that is - Season's Gratings to ye all.

Kenwood: Leveson Cleaners, March 1967.

Another speck of dust: A receipt for cleaning services pertaining to the month of February 1967 at Kenwood. Not cheap, either. Whether Dot Jarlett was employed under the auspices of Leveson Cleaners, Weybridge, or whether this refers to additional services, I don't know. I'd bet that at least some of these charges relate to cat shit, though.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Kenwood: kitchen - breakfast terrace.

Master Nernie also sent me the above pic a while back, taken somewhere inside Kenwood in late 1968. I'm pretty sure it shows the breakfast terrace area of the split-level kitchen. The tiled floor suggests it, and the shape of the wall matches that corner on the Partridge plan just beyond the entrance hall door, which can also be seen in the pic.
Comparing this area to how it was in 2006 (no longer a part of the kitchen), the big window is evident, and there is indeed part of a windowsill in the black and white shot, exactly where you would expect it to be:

Presumably the photographer took a photo of this little table because he or she was amused to find, chez Lennon, a picture of Queen Victoria on display alongside a portrait of the Maharishi.
It's hard to see exactly, but that also looks like a pile of 45s to the right - which again fits with the kitchen idea, as John had a small jukebox there which he would listen to every morning (or more likely afternoon) when brewing tea. (And by tea, this time I literally mean tea and not "tea".)
So, another little corner of Lennon-era Kenwood uncovered. Chin-chin.

34 Montagu Square: 19 October, 1968.

The enthralling scene outside the internal entrance to the ground floor flat at Montagu Square, the day after Sgt Pilcher et al had so rudely interrupted the Ono-Lennons' morning reverie (with the Evening News probably placed there by a wily smudger from that very organ).
John and Yoko weren't in, having gone to ground at the London flat of their lawyer Nicholas Cowan in SW10.
Thanks to Eric Nernie for sending this pic.

Kenwood: living room 2006 & 1968.

Before bothering with the amusing "Yawn" comments, I know these have been on before. However the 2006 photo is uncropped for the first time, and gives a complete view of that window seat.
Although the skirting radiator is gone and the ceiling has been painted white, this is one bit of Kenwood to have survived more or less intact since 1913 when the house was built.

Sloane Square: 1963 & 2009.

The first place John lived in London was the Royal Court Hotel on Sloane Square. Though it's changed its name, the exterior looks much the same today as it did in 1963 when the above fan photo was "done", give or take an awning or two.
Sloane Square, in the form of resident horsey, pearl wearing, ultra-materialistic (and vacuous) young women, eventually came to symbolise certain aspects of 1980s London, much in the way that nearby King's Road, in the form of (insert your own cliche), did for the 1960s. So it goes.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Kenwood: structural changes - 1995.

For those interested in the structural changes which took place during the mid-90s at Kenwood, this is about as full an account as exists, at least as far as the ground floor goes. You can click on it and zoom in for a better look, should ye so desire.
The old part of the house was left pretty much intact, with an external door put into the den, and the other side of the fireplace knocked through in the living room.
However, the section of the house that John had been responsible for building was obliterated. The labelling on the plan runs as follows:
G4 - the new sunroom, or garden room, or whatever you want to call it.
G14 - formerly the kitchen in John's time, this became an internal hallway - note the entrance to the old Lennon sunroom was bricked up.
G12 - again, formerly the upper level of the kitchen, this bit was turned into a "family room", in the coinage of the estate agency.
G5 - this area used to contain the internal yard, boiler room, storage rooms etc. That was all smashed up to make way for the new kitchen.
G6 - previously the large garage, this was expanded a bit to make a games room, and the underfloor section, open air in John's time, was used to create a basement room, also on the above plan.
So, there you have it, whether you want it or not. (And it's as well to remember that Kenwood is a house, not a museum.)
Thanks to Eric Nernie for sending the plan.

Monday, 21 December 2009

IT: Apple ad.

A bizarre ad from the pages of IT, June 1968. That looks like John's "handiwerk". With the emphasis on enjoyment, indeed.
Thanks to Ian Drummond for sending this in.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Kenwood: sunroom - mortar & pestle.

Peter Brown's book, whilst appallingly bad on detail (compare some of his detailed descriptions of Kenwood with the photos on this blog) is pretty good on atmosphere. I have no idea how accurate it may be, but it contains some memorable passages regarding John's drug use. For example: "At Kenwood, on a shelf in the sunroom, sat a white, pharmaceutical mortar and pestle with which he mixed any combination of speed, barbiturates, and psychedelics. Whenever he felt himself coming down from his mind-bending heights, he would lick a finger, take a swipe at the ingredients in the mortar, and suck the bitter film into his mouth.On some of his acid binges he would trip for weeks on end, until all the colour had washed out of his vision and he was seeing things in black and white."
As it turns out, Daniel now also owns that very mortar and pestle, and here it is.
Many thanks to him, again, for sending in the photo.

Kenwood: sunroom - altar cross.

Another little piece of the sunroom has survived - the altar cross evident in the French seamstress pics. It was sold at auction by Cynthia a few years back (which means she took it in late '68 as part of her "house clearing", and probably also means that it was originally purchased by her mother during one of many antique buying expeditions).
The current owner of the cross has very kindly sent in a photo. It was originally embellished with an ornate cover (as in the John photo) which has since gone the way of all things. Thus the core cross, seen above, looks a bit different; but apparently this is the very same object, sans cover. The owner tells me it will be coming up for sale next year...
Thanks to Daniel for sending this in.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Kenwood: Maurice Hindle interview - 2 December, 1968.

The above shows Weybridge train station in 1979. Enthralling stuff. However, it's very close to Kenwood, and is mentioned in the following, written by Maurice Hindle, in which he describes the background to an interview conducted at Kenwood in December 1968, and which has just been published in the New Statesman magazine for the first time:

"In 1968, I was 23 and approaching the end of my first term at Keele University. On the afternoon of 2 December, I emerged with Daniel Wiles, a fellow student, from Weybridge railway station into the wintry stillness of Surrey's stockbroker belt, having hitch-hiked all the way from Staffordshire. We were there to interview John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
I had read about their first performance-art event together back in June, when they planted acorns for peace at Coventry Cathedral, and continued to be intrigued by the couple's exploits. Since then, John and Yoko had been getting flak in the British press. That October, they had been caught in a drugs bust at a flat in London belonging to Ringo Starr. In the aftermath, Tariq Ali's radical newspaper Black Dwarf published an angry "open letter", which accused Lennon of selling out to the establishment and claimed that the Beatles' music had "lost its bite". I felt it was time to counter the growing feeling against John and Yoko, so I wrote to Lennon, via the magazine Beatles Monthly, outlining my ideas for an interview. To my surprise, he replied.
Outside Weybridge station, a Mini Cooper with smoked-glass windows skidded to a halt, like something out of The Italian Job. In the driver's seat was Lennon, looking much as he does in the colour photograph included with the Beatles' 1968 White Album: faded blue Levi's jacket, white T-shirt and jeans, dirty white sneakers, his shoulder-length hair parted in the middle, and wearing the now famous "granny glasses". We students crammed into the back of the Mini and John drove us up the bumpy private road that led to his house, Kenwood.
In the sitting room at the back of the house, we sat down on thick-pile Indian carpets around a low table, cross-legged. Yoko said little, as we all knew this was primarily John's day - and he said a lot. Apart from a short break, when Yoko fed us macrobiotic bread and jams she had made, Lennon talked continuously for six hours. A short extract from the interview was printed in UNIT, the Keele University student magazine, but the interview in full has never previously been published."

By sitting room, he must mean the sunroom, as the actual sitting room was uncarpeted and full of art exhibits at that time. I'll try and pick up a copy of the magazine soon. (By the way, or not, the Hard Rock Cafe released a flexidisc of part of this interview years ago, which I duly posted. You can hear it HERE.)

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Kenwood: sunroom, spring 1968.

After all this sunroom "discourse", a ghostly fan photo offers a partial view ca. Two Virgins, as far as I can gather. What that thing at the foot of the sunroom steps is, I'm not sure.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Kenwood: sunroom receipt - 9 February, 1965.

The last bit of the sunroom puzzle - final proof that it was indeed commissioned by John. Gerry tells me that his father's firm built sunrooms of various descriptions all over the Home Counties during this period. Once again, many thanks to him for the information.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Kenwood: sunroom plan - part 3.

Gerry has found another bit of the sunroom plan - so this is actually the final section.

Kenwood: sunroom plan - part 2.

The second and final part of the plan for the original sunroom. Many thanks again to Gerry Taylor for sending this in.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Kenwood: sunroom plans - part 1.

Gerry Taylor has very kindly sent a scan of the original side elevation plan for the sunroom at Kenwood, together with some new information regarding its construction:
"My father built the Sunroom or Garden Lodge that Lennon had commissioned towards the end of 1964, and my father with his apprentice completed in February 1965. The sliding doors made of strengthened glass were an innovation then, and the idea was brought over by my father's partner who had travelled to America earlier in 1963. The motif on the front was added later by father on Lennon's request, and painted black and white. The entire project cost £300 at the time which was a fortune, and the glass doors a further £100 each. My father had the receipt some time ago, and whilst looking at the plan that I have sent you for the side elevation I have noticed that the gravel pit dug into the ground would have required planning permission, which was not sought during that period, and I am sure due to the structure that my father erected was later not sought either. I am certain that the later owners of the house Kenwood in Weybridge used the original footprint of the building to develop into a more comprehensive structure in the mid 1980s.
The dimensions were as follows:
Logs thickness 4.4 cm (spruce)
Construction style Interlocking, tongue & grooved
Width 800 cm / 26.24 ft (2 rooms)
Depth 400 cm / 13.12 ft + 100 cm veranda
Internal Dimension 7.71x3.71 m / 25.29 x 12.17 ft
Eaves height 2.2 m / 7.21 ft
Ridge height 2.5 m / 8.20 ft
Bearers 7.6x7.6 cm - pressure treated
Overhang 100 cm."
So, we now have a definitive date for the construction of the sunroom, and confirmation that it was indeed John who had it built in the first place. (This explains the fact that when I spoke to Ken Partridge earlier in the year, he seemed to have no recollection of any sunroom, which led to a degree of confusion. He obviously didn't remember it, because it didn't exist when he was working on the interior design at Kenwood.) We also now have exact measurements for the room, which will help the 3D reconstruction.
Interesting stuff, and Gerry says he will send the rest of the plan when he gets a chance, so many thanks to him.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Kenwood: sunroom - 2006 & 1968.

A ca.2006 photo showing the other end of the sunroom in its modern day incarnation. The current structure is slightly bigger, and certainly more substantial than the sunroom which John had built, presumably sometime in late 1964/early 1965. There doesn't seem to be any record of planning permission for John's sunroom, and it is quite likely that none was ever actually sought.
As we've seen, although the current sunroom occupies roughly the same space as the Lennon-model, it's not the same physical structure. However, the external terrace wall has survived intact:

In John's day, the internal sunroom entrance led directly into the kitchen, and the sunroom itself was probably intended to be an equivalent of the small room off the kitchen at Mendips, where John spent much of his time when at Mimi's.
The Lennon-era kitchen is long gone, of course, and the present sunroom (or garden room as the estate agent would have it) leads to an internal hallway.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Kenwood: yet more December,1968.

One "upgrade" and one "new" pic from the terrace just outside the sunroom, December 1968, again, again.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Kenwood: December, 1968.

Another "new" photo, taken on the drive at Kenwood in early December, 1968.

Duke Street and Wigmore Street: Apple and ale.

In the first half of 1968, Apple resided not at Savile Row, but at 95 Wigmore Street, where the corps occupied a 4th floor suite. Above is a shot of John, Paul and Neil Aspinall from that time in that location. Duke Street, a small terrace connecting Wigmore Street and Manchester Square (then home to EMI), can be seen through the window over John's shoulder. The lower pic above dates from the early 70s, and was taken in Duke Street, near the Devonshire Arms, which is on the left.
This is probably the common or garden boozer with the strongest Beatles connections, owing to its proximity to EMI House. Before the debilitating effects of Beatlemania kicked in, they were often to be seen in here when preparing for, or recovering from business meetings round the corner.
Tony Barrow, purveyor of peerless hyperbole on the hind parts of early Beatles releases, recalls meeting them for the first time in this very pub. He was impressed by Macca who, canny as ever, ordered a round and then quietly got Eppy to pay. John (never a Hail-Fellow-Well-Met type of drinker) was more or less silent, though he did apparently snarl at one point "If you aren't queer or Jewish, why are you working for Brian Epstein?"
Charming. The pub is still there today, and despite a bit of a face-lift (alas, no more Toby Ale), remains more or less the same place in which the Fabs once cadged beer, drank and snarled:

Many thanks to Julian Carr for his continued sterling picture research, and to the City of London, London Metropolitan Archives for kind permission to use the early 70s Duke Street shot.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Kenwood: attic gear.

Two Virgins generally gets a kicking, but I think it sorts the men out from the boys (which is being kind to the men, admittedly). Particularly when armed with a knowledge of attic studio architecture, it's an entertaining listen. Anyway, besides the Mellotron, pianos and guitars, John's main allies in the war against sub-millionaire status were his tape machines; the Brenell Mark 5s (same model as above) captured nascent song ideas and long hours of amusing drivel. They were the state of the art home recording device of the time.
John, naturally, had a huge pile of other stuff up here, including his Farfisa Combo Compact organ (same model as below):

Julian Lennon bought much of the following Kenwood detritus (currently on display in Liverpool as part of the White Feather exhibition) at auction, including a tape machine, allegedly a part of the music room set-up, though it is conspicuous by its absence in the available pics. However, it's quite possible there was more recording equipment set up behind the photographer in the June '67 photos:

Thanks to Ron De Bruijn for the above pic.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Kenwood: north-west extension.

And while we are about it, he (Tammy) has also found this. Again, the widest perspective on the large garage overlooking the swimming pool so far. It also gives a good view of one of the speakers that John had set into the wheel spaces of the Rolls. He would use these to put the fear into pedestrians, via deafening train noises, and Brian Jones, via microphone ("Brian Jones! This is the police! Pull over now!" etc.)
Wot a larf.
Incidentally, the above pic was taken, of course, on June 29, 1967. Fast forward almost 40 years to 2006, and the same space, from roughly the same perspective, looked like this...

...the garage and north-west end having been demolished and re-built in the mid-90s, in order to construct more upstairs bedrooms, and the games room seen here.

Kenwood: more den.

Tammy has unearthed a wider perspective version of one of the colour den shots. It's been slightly cropped, however, so I've stitched it and the old one together to give the widest perspective thus far.
Is that the Mr Kite poster on the right hand side?

Hard to tell exactly, but it could be.