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, 28 October 2014

24 Chapel Street: internal layout.

As the old (and moving) trad. arr. has it: "Chapel Street, Chapel Street, Hard to walk to, Without any feet" (What is this drivel? - Podiatry Ed.). Number 24 was, o' course, Brian's final abode, a place of psychedelic high-jinks and not a little angst, as the repercussions of Brian's increasingly chaotic private life played themselves out. The plans here date from the late 1950s, and the eagle of eye will spot certain discrepancies (eg there are now 3 windows on the side wall, but only 2 at the time of the plan for the upper floors).
Nevertheless, this is more or less the layout as Brian would have known it. But enuff o' my yakkin'; for the BBC Arena documentary on his life, former PA Joanne Petersen drove back to Chapel Street and ran through the place (not literally) as she remembered it:

JP: "Downstairs was the staff quarters; this was where his housekeeper and her husband lived." ( ie Spanish couple Maria and Antonio, of whom little is so far known):

Joanne had nothing to say about the ground floor, but a small part of the hall (or vestibule thereof) could be glimpsed behind Ver Fabs on the night of the Pepper launch party. Note too the kitchen to the rear, from where Joanne phoned Kingsley Hill on the weekend of Brian's death to express her concerns to Peter Brown:

JP again: "You went upstairs to the sitting room, and behind the sitting room was Brian's study where he worked.":

So the area marked "Boudoir" on the plan was Brian's office, which explains why it is dark in the party photos:

JP: "The second floor was his suite... you went in through the double doors to his dressing room, and then into his bedroom and then through there into his bathroom. His bathroom was pretty unique. It was totally white... with a huge (photo of) El Cordobes all on one wall, it was very imposing."
El Cordobes was, as ye will doubtless know, a Spanish bullfighter who Brian had a "thang" about.  From the description, it's possible that the door to the bathroom on the plan here was blocked off, and another put in beside the chimney area in Bedroom 1. Said Bedroom 1 was, o' course, the place where, tragically, on 27th August 1967, Brian accepted a teaching post in Australia:

JP: "The rest of the top floor was two rooms knocked into one, and that was where I worked in one corner. It was the office by day and the playroom by night. It was where he had all his memorabilia, and the present that Elvis's Col. Tom Parker had given him. It was just full of treasures of Brian's. It was also where everybody went up at night to play, and at the weekend I used to put my typewriter under my desk because then it wasn't lost anymore."
Presumably the "two rooms knocked into one" were Bedrooms 4 and 5:

And there we have it. I haven't found any record of planning permission post-Brian, so presumably the house remains more or less the same. One day, no doubt, it will come on the market again, at which point we shall see.
Many thanks to Julian Carr for digging up (not literally) the plans, and grateful acknowledgement to James Boyles for taking the Chapel Street pic.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Kenwood: chess table.

More from the Tracks auction. Pete Shotton has several lots in the sale, including this - what's left of the chess table from the lounge at Kennie. In his own words: "This table was made specially for John when he moved into his house on St George’s Hill, Weybridge in 1964. It was the centre piece and focal point of his enormous lounge. Many of the world’s most famous musicians and rock stars sat at this table with John, including, of course, The Beatles. John loved this table, not only for its unusual design and beauty, but also because it served a very practical purpose for him. When he invariably used his guitar to compose a song he loved to sit on the floor with his legs crossed with the guitar in his lap, and sitting by this table was his favourite position because it was just the right height for him to rest his paper on to write the lyrics. My association with John is well documented. As his closest and lifelong friend I spent a great amount of time staying at his house and over the years up till 1968 when he met Yoko and moved to London. I sat with him many times at the table while he created some of his greatest compositions. Unfortunately my memory is fading these days regarding all the songs he wrote in my presence, however, the specific ones I do remember were I’m Only Sleeping, Ticket To Ride, Day Tripper, Sexy Sadie and Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. I had been living at his house for about 6 or 7 months when one evening in 1968 he said he fancied a bit of female company and would I mind if he asked Yoko Ono over. We had stayed up all the previous night and all day as I told him I didn’t care what he did as I was going to have an early night. He told me that there was something about her that he liked but would I stay up till after she arrived in case he wasn’t comfortable with her. When she arrived by taxi, the first place John took her was into the lounge where the three of us sat round this table. I made some tea for us, and then after about half an hour John gave me a pre-arranged signal that he was ok, so I got to bed at last! That was the night that they fell in love! When John and Yoko moved to London and he put the house up for sale, he moved some of his furniture including the ‘chess’ table to a house he owned in nearby Esher. I moved into this house shortly afterwards and eventually bought it from him, including the contents, which is how I came to own the table. Unfortunately a number of the tiles got cracked and discoloured over the years so I had to have the tiles replaced in order to restore it to its original condition. However, the cast iron frame is the original one and I consider that what I did was the same thing as a car being restored from its chassis. This table would not only be a beautiful addition to any home but would also be a wonderful ‘conversation piece’ with its amazing history."

I wonder if the house in Esher is Quill Cottage.

Sandbanks & the Tip: Tracks goodies.

Tracks have just published full details of their latest auction, and, as ever, it is full of fascinating bits unt bobs, including these rare pics: above - John and extended family on the balcony at Mimi's place in the summer of 1966. Below, John plus trusty Raleigh Lenton, by the Tip off Menlove Avenue:

Both of these, and lots more, can be found at the dedicated site. I'd recommend scooting over there tout suite.