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, 15 November 2011

Montagu Square: 34 by night.


Were you to take a shotgun, cock both hammers, invite it into my mouth and demand an answer to the hardy perrenial, "Choose one Beatles album, and one only. Which shall it be?", I'd be forced to answer "Plee tae i gu ou my mou. I canno enuniae wi a gu i my mou." And then I'd say, "the White Album".
34 Montagu Square was, of course, where John lived whilst contributing to the aforementioned opus, having opted out of Kenwood due to his new "thang" with Yoko. The walls therein witnessed an eventful few months, culminating in the drug bust of Rocktober '68 (of which more in a later post). And, for the third time, I managed to get in, on this occasion finally armed with a camera.
But enough o' my yakkin', where are the Then & Nows already?
Above, the recently unearthed shot of John returning to the flat in the early hours of a '68 morn, and the same location last night. Note the blue plaque. (And I'm going to need a hand getting that postbox into my boot.)(I know a running gag when I see one, db.)
Through the door and into the entrance hall:


The flat occupies two floors, ground and basement. The ground floor has two main rooms - on the left as you enter is the kitchen (as it is now):


Back in the day, the kitchen was downstairs. This room was a bedroom, and here is the very spot where the Two Virgins sleeve was shot:


The window is the same (though bars have been added on the outside) and the external view identical:


Oh look, they've even got the Times in it/on it/against it:


Above the "new" fitted cupboards (the flat was extensively renovated in the mid-90s), some original features remain:


In this corner, the titular bed once sat (and it was here that Pete Shotton decided he'd had enough of being John's "Piss Artist"):


Across the hall is a living room. As ye will no doubt know, before John and Yoko's tenure, Jimi Hendrix also resided here (with Ringo as landlord in both cases). Here they are, on either side of the fireplace (which, I reckon, still has its original surround, were one to strip off that white paint):


All that de-rigeur '60s wood long gone, though:


No pictures of John and Yoko in this room have surfaced thus far. It's quite possible that they didn't really use it, as it's the most exposed room in the flat, with windows opening on to the street.
Heading downstairs, there is another living room. Ringo and Maureen were pictured here in 1965, and John too in 1968 during his Rolling Stone interview with Jonathan Cott. The decor hadn't really changed in the intervening period; note those odd floor-shelves:


This room remains fairly close to its auld incarnation, the main differences being the fireplace, which has had a mantelpiece added, and the removal of the "shelving". But other elements are spottable:



The other main room downstairs used to be the kitchen. There are a few pics of Ringo and Maureen in here, but the best ones in terms of decor spotting feature our old friend Mr Jimi:


Again, the window endures, but nothing much else:


Over Jimi's shoulder, a door can be seen, and there's still one there now:


It leads to a small bathroom, and a mystery:


The question is where were these...:


...these...:


...and these taken?:


This room was John's "office", and it must (one would think) have been in the space now occupied by the above bathroom, and another bathroom on the other side of the wall:


Here's the other bathroom. The mirror wall divides the two, and a bit of wall tapping reveals that there was a door to the right of where the mirror now is:


But damned if I can see any relation between either (or both) rooms and the photos of John's office. I won't go into it at length at this juncture (you'll be relieved to hear), but the answer will no doubt appear if/when contemporary floor plans can be tracked down.
In the meantime, huge thanks to the flat's current owner Reynold D’Silva, and to top bloke Peter Compton for sorting out the shufti.

12 comments:

  1. Yet more incredible detective work. My favourite "Then & Now" of all!

    Thanks so much for taking the time and effort to get into the flat and for sharing these wonderful pictures.

    I'd known Hendrix had stayed at Montagu Square but hadn't realised that's where those pictures were from. I'd also always thought that the shots of John on the floor with the 7" singles had been taken at Apple, so thanks also for that information.

    How did it feel to be standing in rooms where Ringo, Hendrix & Lennon lived, & Paul demoed Eleanor Rigby?

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  2. You lucky beggar -all that rockistory in one lump!Ever thought of running a "Walks with Lennon"-I'd sign up if you act as the conductor on that magical mystery tour-big ta for all your work on this site.

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  3. Amazing post, you must have had such a great time in there

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  4. Yes, very interesting hour or two last night, in convivial company. Much time spent attempting to figure out the "office" location, but I'm afraid it defeated us. (On the trail of old floor-plans now.) And all rounded off with a few pivas. Splendid. Also splendid that Montagu Square is currently owned/looked after by people who appreciate its history. Right, I'm off for an early night.

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  5. Above and beyond the call of duty. An MBE should be headed your way. BTW, how many rooms were there in 1968? 3 Up and 3 down, plus a bathroom? Do you know the approximate square-footage?

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  6. A whopper of a post: so much to take in. I'm still stuck on the first image and the fact the council swapped the modern lamppost for a pretend Olde one.

    I agree with tomk: some sort of acknowledgment from the Queen, definitely.

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  7. Amazing work. Can't believe you've managed to get access to Trident and Montagu Square - I'd definitely put money on you getting into the holy grail of Kenwood before long! Thanks for all the hard work you put into bringing these amazing posts to us - much appreciated!

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  8. This is another reason I love this site. And, damn Jimi, doing the dishes in your blue velvet suit. Swank!!

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  9. fabulous post, as usual, my friend! i was also in that flat the day before the unveiling. it was quite an experience! reynold is a very nice guy and showed me all around. it was amazing! not only because i am a beatle fan but i am also a jimi hendrix fan. to think of john and yoko standing there naked - wow!

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  10. According to the Handel House Museum website the photo is taken at 23 Brook Street, London.

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  11. http://patrickbaty.co.uk/2010/11/16/handel-house-museum-london/

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  12. The Handel House Museum have got this wrong. Compare the windows in the above pics - identical. There are other photos from this session showing him eg walking down the hall staircase (which is exactly the same now as it was then) at 34. So no, these were definitely taken at 34 Montagu Square.

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