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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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.


  1. I've viewed these pictures with a sadness, in that the Lennon's divorce is ongoing at this time. Julian is playing with a friend in the pool and Cyn's mother is house sitting while Cynthia is out; but their world is rapidly changing. In November, John will return to an almost empty house for a mere few weeks. And then it is over for his stay at this magical house. Many thanks to Cathy for sharing these.

  2. Is true. No more psychedelic pianos and what-not. Difficult to imagine George and Ringo popping in now (although we all hope they did). The photographs seem to illustrate Ian Macdonald's wonderful description of the White Album in Revolution in the Head very well: '...this musical attic of odds and ends, some charming, others sinister, many tinged with childhood memories, all absorbed in the interior worlds of their authors. There is a secret unease in this music, betraying the turmoil beneath the group's business-as-usual facade. Shadows lengthen over the album as it progresses: the slow afternoon of The Beatles' career.'

    So, for this invaluable insight into the 'guarded privacy and locked rooms' of that utterly fantastic record, thank you Cathy and thank you kenwoodlennon.

  3. Kenwood is such a magical mystical place for me. I think it represents the Beatles at the height of their powers and John's abandonment of it coincided with the band's decline. Seeing the photos of Cyn's solitary car outside and the overgrown back garden is sad - John had lost all interest in it, just as he was close to doing with the Beatles. Great, great pics though - gives us an insight into what we would have seen had we walked up the Kenwood's drive back in the day - priceless, thanks again to all involved.
    On a different note (albeit slightly related - Beatle homes and all), I've noticed Sunny Heights is up for sale again. The psychedelic mural is still there (as seen in earlier posts on this blog). The new owners have changed it's name to Summer Haze. If you've got £5,950,000 in the bank this unique piece of Beatles history could be yours!!

  4. I don't agree with everything in that Macdonald book, at all. But that passage about the White Album is my favourite bit, too. And you might be right to link it to Kenwood. Sounds about right, doesn't it?
    (I met Damo Suzuki tonight. Fantastic!)