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.)

Legal Blah: This blog is for historical research only, and is strictly non-commercial. All visual and audio material remains the property of the respective copyright owner, and no implication of ownership by me is intended or should be inferred. Any copyright owner who wants something removed should contact me and I will do so immediately. Alternatively, I would be delighted to provide a credit. The writing is by me, such as it is, unless otherwise stated, and this is the only Beatles related blog I am responsible for.

Comments Blah: Comments are moderated. Any genuine comments are welcome. Due to idiotic spamming, you'll have to press the "Follow" button on the right under "Kenwoodites..." in order to leave a comment. Offensive comments/advertising/trolling/other moronicisms are not welcome, and will be rejected.
Comments are the responsibility of the individual commenter, and commenters' opinions do not necessarily reflect my own. (NB: This blog revels in flagrant trivia. If that's not yer "thing", this won't be yer "thang".)

Correspond via: kenwoodlennon@googlemail.com

Thursday, 29 July 2010

13 Emperor's Gate: then unt now.

The above fan photo of John has appeared on both Tammy's and Sara's respective (and respected) blogs of late. It's interesting, because it is one of the very few fan photos to have emerged of John outside his first family home in London (and environs) - namely, 13 Emperor's Gate. Why there aren't more is something of a mystery; there were certainly affordable mass market cameras available in the early 1960s... and photos of the gurlz hanging around wherever a Fab was rumoured to be, also usually show a few of these cameras, primed and ready. Perhaps there is a glut of unseen photos buried in desk drawers and old photo albums, in various unknown places. Perhaps not.
Anyway, as has been mentioned in previous posts, the block John lived in is no more. The spot where the above girls were standing can be seen below, roughly beside the silver car on the bottom left:

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

7 Cavendish Avenue: 1961 & 1974.

After the recent Kenwood binge, a little digestif - namely, a fascinating pic of 7 Cavendish Avenue, dating from 1961. According to Fount of all Knowledge (in this area, at any rate) The Beatles' London, Paul bought the place from a doctor called Desmond O' Neill, and it's therefore quite likely that the doc was the owner when this snap was snapped. Note - no gate: It was Mr McCartney who installed one, for obvious reasons, before moving in.
In 1961, o' course, Paul is mainly in Hamburg and Liverpool, consolidating the Beatles' growing reputation.
And all the while, 7 Cavendish Avenue sits there, waiting...

Also below, another shot from 1974, showing the more familiar view, including Maccagate the first. The gate that's there now is a different one (for any collectors of gate trivia, of whom I trust there are none).

Many thanks to Julian Carr for his sterling picture research, and to the City of London, London Metropolitan Archive for permission to use these pics.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Kenwood: summer, 1968 - part 9.

Another colour shot of the sunroom. For the hell of it, here's the same view by Leslie Bryce:

...and by Joe Baiardi, from a couple of years back:

The final three of Cathy's photos, all showing the west end of the house:

Yet again, a bit of new detail. Note the attic window to the right, which looked on to the "living room" up there:

Clearly different from the other one, this right hand window was blue in colour. (It's probably a safe bet that John was responsible for installing it.) The blue-hued one survived up till the mid-1980s, when it was replaced by a normal pane of glass.

And so there we have it. Huge thanks again go to Cathy Kelleher Sarver for having the chutzpah to get into Kenwood, the foresight to take a camera, and the generosity to let us see all these very evocative photos, all these years later. (And not forgetting Lizzie Bravo, without whom...)

Friday, 23 July 2010

Kenwood: summer, 1968 - part 8.

The front gate at Kenwood, summer, 1968. You'd think the gate would be as "iconic" (for want of a much better word) as the sunroom or the attic studio. After all, this is where the Yoof would congregate, and there must have been days when the heavy sliding gate was shut and stayed shut. Under such circumstances, what would there have been to do, other than a) get to work defacing as much of it with knife and ink as possible, and/or b) take a few snaps, as a memento of your day, standing in what was very likely drizzle, and occasionally being told to "fuck off" by Julian from the other side. (See some prior post or other for that particular tale).
But where are these snaps? It's odd that there has, to date, only been one photograph to surface of the gate (the one of Paul arriving), and that didn't show much. So, this one is most welcome; the first decent (not to mention colour) photo of the Lennon-era gate to appear.
Again, questions answered; that does indeed look like the sign later sold at auction by the gardener at Tittenhurst (apparently John took it with him when he finally sold up, and then passed it on):

...and a quick comparison with the same spot from a couple of years back. Note there isn't much left of the roof:

Happily, Cathy wasn't left outside, but found the gate wide open, as it often was at that time. Making her way up the curving road towards the house, she took a few photos as she went. First, this odd, raised bit of bricked up foliage, a "feature" or some such similarly despicable word:

And the same "feature", this time in relation to the house. The windows visible in this pic let light in on the Lennons none-more-60s "his and hers" (his 'n' hers, if ye must) basins on the first floor, and the attic studio on the second (UK speak):

The top of the drive, looking back down towards the gate:

..and the area around the front door, scene of many seen and so far unseen shots of a dishevelled, but seemingly almost always patient and amenable John, hanging out with those representatives of the Yoof who had the nerve to ring his doorbell:

To wit:

(To woo.) Plus, the same spot from a couple of years back. Note the hulking presence of the new garage to the right, and the completely re-built bit where the old garage was to the left:

Note too the rather forlorn sight of Cynthia's car, standing on its own.

Many thanks go again to Cathy Kelleher Sarver and Lizzie Bravo. (And another quick shout to Joe Baiardi for his contemporary pics.) The final batch of Cathy's photos coming soon.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Kenwood: summer, 1968 - part 7.

Cathy then walked up the north perimeter steps, which took her out at the side of the garage, overlooking the swimming pool. She got the above shot through a gap in the woodwork. As she says:"The two little heads that can just be seen through the fence are Julian and a "little girl from down the hill". The photo was taken from the car port."
I would never have spotted the "two little heads", but there they are. You can also just make out part of the "Psychedelic Eye" on the wall of the swimming pool itself.
I'd never noticed before, but some of the plans on these pages show an area of concrete to the side of the garage. Cars were one of John's big extravagances during the '60s, so this area was likely used to park any that wouldn't fit in the main garage.
You can just see the spot, from where the above photo was taken, to the left of the garage in the black and white pic below:

Once again, many thanks go to Cathy and Lizzie. Next up, the front gate, drive and some more views of the house.

Kenwood: summer, 1968 - part 6.

Near the western perimeter of the grounds sat the greenhouse, familiar from June 29, 1967, when John decided to do the dead Che, a few months before Che himself did, on John's birthday, October 9, 1967. But I digress:

The greenhouse gradually fell into a state of disrepair throughout the 1980s, eventually being demolished, inevitably, during the wholesale reconstruction in the mid-90s (Rubbish - as it turns out, the thing was still there in 2006, though it's now gone (I think)). Not far from where it stood, the north perimeter steps can be found, leading up past the old swimming pool to the side of the garage; they, at least, are still there, just about. This is how they looked in the summer of 1968, as captured by Cathy Kelleher Sarver:

As previously seen, John and Yoko were also caught in that very locale, out for a stroll in December, 1968:

The next photo in this sequence, taken having climbed the perimeter steps, answers another question about the Lennon-era house. I'll deal with that in the following post.

Many thanks again to Cathy for taking these pictures, and to Lizzie too.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Kenwood: summer, 1968 - part 5.

Having gained access to the house, Cathy went walkabout, as you would. The most striking thing about this latest batch of her pics, is how wild and overgrown the grounds had become during the latter Lennon-era. Compare with the recent Joe Baiardi video (posts passim), which shows everything carefully pruned back; most of the barely managed vegetation was removed in the mid-90s. (I guess, judging by the state of it now, that Kenwood must still have a full time gardener - probably more than one, too.)
I've spoken to someone who grew up in the house in the '80s, and he remembers this lower portion of the garden as being almost completely untamed by that point, a magical place to his friends and him.
He has also been back since, and feels that a good deal of this magical quality that possessed the house and grounds disappeared during the mid-90s renovations, along with the triffid-like flora, the sunroom and the garage.
So it goes.
Anyway, the garden seems to have grown more feral the farther away from the house one got.

The steps are familiar from the 1965 shots...but everything (and I do mean everything) has become a good deal shaggier in the interim:

This pond is a new feature to me; note the ornamental carving. (I have no idea if it is still there, but I gather that the swimming pool has recently been moved back to its original position, and a new ornamental pond sits beneath John's old perch outside the sunroom):

Finally for this lot, a flower garden, somewhere in Kenwood:

I'm running out of ways to say thank you to Cathy and Lizzie. More shots of the garden, and exterior of the house to come.

St George's Hill: summer, 1968.

This little snapshot, again taken by Cathy Kelleher Sarver in the summer of 1968, answers a question that occasionally pops up on these pages: namely, how did Ver Yoof/Kidz get to Kenwood, when St George's Hill is gated and inaccessible to those without mountains of cash (or their employees/friends)?
The answer, as the above shows, is that the Hill may be inaccessible now, but it wasn't back then. As Cathy writes, this pic shows the "entrance into the St. George's Hill Estate. If memory serves you would take the road to the right to get to John & Ringo's homes." Thus, the curious could stroll into the grounds, and, if armed with the right kind of knowledge, up to Kenwood, through (or over) the gate, and so on and so forth.
I'm not sure when the gates and security at the Estate entrances were installed. Seems a bit off, however. Nor am I sure which entrance this is, as there are a few ways in. But it may well be the one off Brooklands Road (below as seen last year).

Many thanks again to Cathy and Lizzie.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Kenwood: summer, 1968 - part 4.

According to Cathy's account, this is a picture of the living room... and so it is, though I was thrown a little at first, because the pic doesn't really resemble any of the previously seen shots. The lithographs have gone, to be replaced by that odd looking wooden wall cupboard, similar to the one in the dining room (in fact, it may even be the one from the dining room, transplanted to the living room); the hard couches, too, offski. Obviously, therefore, a lot of renovation has gone on... which God knows, should be no surprise by this point.
The clue lies in the doorway - although everything else has changed, it hasn't. Compare with the shot from 1965:

So Cathy would have been standing beside the fireplace, looking through to the dining room. The same spot from 2006:

There are one or two other familiar things, though. John has left the Ramirez guitar lying about. Most remiss of him:

And the round table, which later ended up in the sunroom:

Also note the "famous" black carpet, a magnet for cat shit, apparently; again Cyn and her mum must have rolled this up (the carpet, not the cat shit)(actually, the carpet and the cat shit) and taken it (and just about everything else in the room) away with them, because by December, the floorboards are bare.
It's another fascinating, and intimate shot, affording a glimpse of the interior house, long gone, John.
Many thanks again to Cathy and Lizzie.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Kenwood: summer, 1968 - part 3.

A colour pic of the bird table, as sported by the resolutely black and white Lennon, on June 29, 1967:

John (as has been seen) would occasionally stroll round the grounds, often in one kind of stupor or another, and converse with the gardener/fans/etc. Cathy's photos (as will be seen) provide the most comprehensive view of the Lennon-era grounds thus far. Thus...

Heaped gratitude to Cathy and Lizzie, once again.

Kenwood: summer, 1968 - part 2.

More from Cathy. The den was really Cynthia's equivalent of the sunroom/attic; it was where she hung out. This little snapshot at last answers some questions, and ties together many photos previously seen on these pages. So, to start, some perspective; you can see the corner of the piano in the bottom left, and in position in the Fool shots:

The rather touching pic of Julian fiddling about with pater's tache was also taken here, as suspected:

Long term readers will recall the outbreak of ultra-violence that accompanied the debate about this pic. Was it taken in the den or not? I think this proves it was (note - that's the sunroom couch; which, I reckon, means this photo was taken in 1965, pre-sunroom.):

And, o' course, the Ringo authored family shot that appeared in the Beatles' biography in 1968; once again, this couch was the venue:

Finally, the same spot, almost exactly, from around 2006:

Huge thanks again to Cathy and Lizzie. More to come, very soon.

Kenwood: summer, 1968 - part 1.

(May as well start at the front door.)
Cathy Kelleher Sarver visited Kenwood shortly after John & Yoko had moved out in the summer of 1968, and...well, she can tell you herself:
"It was summer 1968 and John had stopped living at Kenwood but the house was so very special to me, I just had to go there anyway. My friend and I went to the house and rang the doorbell. A lady answered the door. I asked if I could take a picture of inside the door and she let us into the long foyer. Then she opened the door to the living room and I got that picture and then she opened the door to what I call the "music room". Both rooms were about three steps down from the foyer (the house was built on a hill). In Alf Bicknell's book he talks about helping John paint a room red. This must be the room! Then we went back to the door and I asked if I could take a picture of her and she said, “Yes". After I took the picture of her with the foyer's built-in bookcases in the background she said, "Who are you going to tell your friends I am?”. Neither of us spoke but I was thinking, "The maid?", but didn't want to say that. Then she said, "I'm Cynthia's mother." WOW! It was Mrs. Powell. We thanked her and left the door, which she shut. THEN we went all over the property!!! And no one knew!!! And then we left. We were such good fans we didn't even take a leaf off a tree!!!! At some point in the conversation Mrs. Powell told us Cynthia was at the pool watching Julian and a neighborhood friend. I took a picture through the fence from the back driveway and you can just barely see two little heads in the water!!!!!"

All in all, Cathy took 20 (count 'em) pics that day, and guess wot? They are all going to be on here, over the next few days. First off, the "naked lady" door knocker, together with the Lennon coat of arms. Clearly a hastily snatched pic, I've paired it with the one from the end of the year showing the same thing. Above, the entrance hall (with John's nemesis much in evidence) - and final proof that it was the location for those John-in-the-bathchair shots. Note that the books have all gone, later to appear at Tittenhurst. Funny, that. John didn't care about much of the detritus he'd accumulated at Kenwood, judging by the fact that Cynthia took most of it, uncontested. But he clearly wanted the books. (Musta been a "reader".)

Many thanks go to Cathy for so generously agreeing to let us see her photos and hear her story, and to her good friend, the wonderful Lizzie Bravo, who sorted it all out. Aguardientes all round.

Friday, 16 July 2010

3 Savile Row: 2 fireplaces.

The story of 3 Savile Row in the 1960s hinges upon 5 people. Showbiz magnate Jack Hylton, for whom it served as a base of operations throughout the first half of the decade, and you know who, for whom you know what.
The above shows John, probably in the main boardroom on the first floor (UK nomenclature; second floor US), engaged in a high level business meeting upon which hundreds of thousands of pounds rested. One wonders why they almost went bust. Also the fireplace, a mute witness to it all, as seen in its previous incarnation as...a fireplace. But this time, obviously, in Hylton House (as the Apple Building once was), from around the time John was failing to mug people in Hamburg.
Below, thrillingly, another fireplace, also in its Hylton and Apple phases. I have no idea where in the building this room is/was. It looks like reception. Mr Malcolm Evans, long suffering factotum, mans the phones:

These fireplaces, eh? The things they've seen. (Mainly coal.)

Many thanks again go to Julian Carr for his picture research, and to the City of London, London Metropolitan Archive for permission to use the Hylton-era pics.