Over the gate...

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Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Tittenhurst: relics o' Kenwood, 1977.


As Stuart Sutcliffe might have said: Can you tell what it is yet?
The last mention of the Kenwood caravan on these pages placed it at the bottom of the sea, having sunk on its way back from John's island, Dorinish.
So much for rumour.
In fact, the caravan arrived safely at Tittenhurst, and was left standing near what was then the main gate. Exposure to the elements has taken its toll; the paintwork wrecked, the Sgt Pepper motif long since washed away.
This photo, and others to follow, were taken by Thomas Rhyner in the summer of 1977. Chutzpah is all; having spotted the open gates, he walked through, camera in hand. Upon being challenged, Thomas asked if he could take some photos, and, amazingly enough, was told he could, provided he was gone in half an hour, because "Ringo is due back then, and if he sees you wandering about, he'll get medieval on yo' ass with peace and love." (Or words to that effect.)
Luckily, Thomas had a keen eye, and captured a number of interesting photos in his allotted survival time. He also happened to be standing in roughly the same spot as the photographer in this shot from the Beatles' final photo session:


The freshly painted caravan, for comparative purposes:


Wandering farther into the grounds, he noticed this:


...the distinctive round seat from the acorn installation at Coventry Cathedral in 1968, last seen at Kenwood outside the den window:


What has since become of these "items"? Ringo moved out of Tittenhurst in 1988, and it's quite possible they went with him; if so, the caravan and seat may be sitting still somewhere in the grounds of his Surrey pile.

I sort of hope so.

Many thanks to Thomas for sending these in; more to follow.

9 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Incredible. Emotional. Painful (the Rolf Harris joke).

    What magical photographs. Only ten years have passed since the Summer of Luv, the Sex Pistols have taken over the King's Road, Macca is preparing to inflict Mull of Kintyre on us all. And the spirit of Sgt Pepper is fast asleep in Ringo's garden. It really is as if the whole thing never happened. If it feels like a comedown to us, what must it have felt like for them?

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  3. It looks like the Sgt Pepper's Caravan was abandoned, and left to rot.

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  4. These are magical pictures and answer many of the questions we all were misinformed about regarding the Sgt Pepper Caravan. I hope Ringo saved these relics.

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  5. I don't think he did. I wonder if Ringo ever felt obliged to keep them, after all John had sold Tittenhurst to him.

    Off the record.. Would this Blog ever cover the Tynan stage play, expecially the script John Lennon wrote about group masturbation?

    "Frank Sinatra!"

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  6. We'll Ringo sold the place after John had died, so I would think he would have kept everything that belonged to John. Only Ringo knows.......

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  7. That's awesome! I love the fact that the caravan survived! Its amazing what 10 years of being exposed to the elements did to the paint job. Hope Ringo still has it. Loving the blog - never cease to be amazed by all of the amazing pics and stories posted on here!

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  8. Disregarding that Ringo would have sent the caravan to his properties in Los Angeles or Monte Carlo, it's likely then (if he didn't leave it to rot) that he shipped it over to Cranleigh in Surrey. Was there a gap in the UK between moving from Tittenhurst to Cranleigh? I know he has a property in Chelsea, London, but that's a mews house and unlikely to host a caravan (however pretty). Equally, his "house" in Monaco is a flat, so if it still exists, my money is on Cranleigh.
    Great pictures-thanks for sharing.

    Simon

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  9. Re. Oh Calcutta!: Possibly more than anyone would ever want to know HERE

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