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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Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Kingsley Hill: then & now.


Definitive proof that Kingsley Hill was indeed the venue for those evocative shots, showing assorted Beatles and entourage at repose in the summer of 1967. As can be seen, at least some of the images were captured in the garden adjacent to the road.
The house and grounds are virtually unchanged 40-odd years later - the only real difference being some savage topiary on the tree outside the door. The distinctive garden wall is still there too:


Brian bought Kingsley Hill in early 1967 as a country retreat, partly because of its Winston Churchill connections (it's said that the stogied-up PM met with Chiefs of Staff here immediately prior to D-Day).
After Brian's death, his brother Clive sold the abode on to (if not onto) a family (Macfarlane by name); apparently it still contained boxes of Brian's leftover possessions at that point, and these formed part of the sale.
Subsequently sold again in 1976 (and, as far as I know, the current owner has had it since then), Kingsley Hill's interior is seemingly also largely unmodified; several rooms still boast "psychedelic" paintwork on the walls, presumably of Beatle-related origin. (This was a trend in 1967 - Kenwood, Kinfauns, Sunny Heights and Kingsley Hill were all partially so decorated; it's remarkable that in two of these houses, some of that paintwork has survived to the present day.)
It was, of course, also the venue for a famous party in celebration of Sgt Pepper; Brian's secretary, Joanne Peterson, recalls "walking into the top room of the house and opening the door. There were the Beatles, sitting there cross-legged in their Sgt Pepper costumes".
The most famous picture of Brian outside Kingsley Hill was taken on the other side of the low "bungalow" bit of the house, visible to the left:


All in all, a fascinating place. (By the way, it was the subject of a British newspaper article a few years back, which may well have included shots of the interior paintwork described above. If anyone has this, be a "luv" and send us a copy.)

5 comments:

  1. I have seen a photo of the above mentioned psychedelic mural. I had my suspicions as to its vintage (and Fab involvement) as it had been done in what appeared to be a loft conversion (and a fairly modern one at that). My understanding of these sort of conversions are that they are a mainly 1970's fad, and not necessarily a mid-1960's phenomena. But that's just speculation on my part. If I recall rightly, it wasn't particularly psychedelic, and more like a series of different colours fashioned in a rainbow hue.

    Kingsley Hill is a marvellous stop on anyone's extended Beatles tour, and as evidenced from the photos, is clearly untouched by the ravages of time. My major point of reference was trying to identify the window ledge where dear Cynthia attempted to fly from. That must have been some party...

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  2. Yes - it's never been confirmed that those paintings are "Beatle". I think if it's true that there are different examples to be found in several rooms, though, it's probable that at least one of them is.

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  3. Another fascinating blog post - thank you Kenwood!

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  4. I've always wondered where those pics were taken, so thanks for solving that one. I always imagined they were taken in the back of Paul's back garden on Cavendish Avenue as there's a high wall back there. Love the thought of the Beatles chilling together on a lazy sunny 1967 afternoon. I wonder if any of their songs were conceived while these pics were being taken?

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  5. Twiggy's autobiography also refers to psychedelic murals at Cavendish Road... Dang - that's low grade trivia. Distracted in charity shop, the mind wonders.

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