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, 31 December 2010

Kenwood: pool, ca '66/ '67.


Julian hingin' aboot the pool at Kenwood, as above. Gratings o' the season to all, if one must... and thanks to Joe Baiardi for sending this in.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Royal Albert Hall: box number 12.


The Beatles, being big fans of Bob Dylan, attended his concerts at the Ralbert in 1965 and 1966. The latter was marred (or enhanced) by a general fracas involving outraged members of the audience attempting to upstage El Zim, due to his adoption of this newfangled "electricity". The Beatles joined in too, apparently; on the side of Bob, obviously.
In particularly idle moments, I've infrequently wondered where they were sitting on this and other RAH evenings. I have no idea - but the Beatles' London mentions another occasion in 1965 when they watched proceedings at a Daily Mirror Golden Ball event from a private box, number 12. Being at the Albert for a Bootlegs show the other night, I couldn't resist getting a couple of photos, as seen above and below:


Might it be that this was their regular seat, and that the following photo of Zimmy on stage at the Ralb at one of the 1966 shows also captures the shadowy forms of the Fabs?


Almost certainly not. But many thanks to Andre of the Bootleg Beatles for a splendid time, and I'd recommend going along next time they are in your neck of the bottle.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Kenwood: expenses, May 1968.


The imminent Bonhams auction of entertainment memorabilia has a few Kenwood related goodies. It's possible that the vendor is none other than our old friend Pete Shotton, as the items include the scribbled lyric for I'm Only Sleeping as featured in his book, together with a table that, it is claimed, sat in Kenwood, and around which John and Yoko muttered at each other on the Two Virgins night (the only other person there being Mr Shotton), plus, most interestingly, the above; a detailed breakdown of John's household expenses for the month of May, 1968. At that time, John's live in "P.A." was none other than...you know who. Whatever, whether or not these items do come from Pete, the sheet provides another (in this case literally) valuable insight into life at Kenwood.
Given that you can multiply these figures by around 13 to gain a rough modern equivalent, it's clear that John ran a fairly profligate household - in modern terms, the expenses come to around 31,600 pounds! The garden alone was costing just over 1,000 a month (assuming this was a typical month), presumably most of which went on the gardener's wages: so he was probably on around 250 per week. The combined upkeep of Mimi, Cynthia's mother and the ignoble Alf was costing John around 4,600 per month. (Lil got a third of what Mimi and Alf got - with Alf getting most of all. One assumes this fact was not conveyed to Mimi.) John himself made do with around 3,250 in cash for "expenses" (and Lord only knows what they were).
(Also note around 1,600 for Cyn and her mother to go to Rimini on the Adriatic. Again, this may prove useful in attempting to pin down the Two Virgins chronology, something which thus far hasn't been done to anyone's satisfaction.)

Monday, 29 November 2010

Kenwood: 1967 & 2010.


So much time is spent (or wasted) here cataloguing those things that haven't survived the ravages of wealth-related caprice/ blinkered philistinism etc, that it is good to see something which has endured; and good, too, to see a bespoke version of this shot - John's favoured perch still very much there, and, with the obvious exception of the sunroom, so is more or less everything else...apparently. Thanks to Joe Baiardi (for it is he), and more to come on this theme, if theme it be.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Kenwood: and its "environs", 2010.

Mr Brilig, an occasional leaver of amusing comments round these parts, recently found himself on business in the environs of St George's Hill, and couldn't resist a quick visit to the threshold of the titular pile (well, who can, whenever the opportunity arises?). He also couldn't resist firing up the auld "video" recorder, and... well, recording his progress through the lanes around Kenwood:



This may be of little consequence to anyone, but it's worth bearing in mind that these roads have changed little in the intervening period since John lived there (unlike the house itself); Mr Lennon would sometimes use them to go for a stroll after being up all night smoking "reefer" and playing "the bongos" (or whatever people did back then for amusement). In the context of all this, I find the Brilig film to be interesting: it's another little layer of insight in the.. errr.. gateaux that is... errrr...
Brilig has also begun a Beatle related blog, which can be found HERE. Thanks to him for letting me use the film.

Kinfauns, part 4: then and now.


A long, narrow path led to the gate at Kinfauns, and it's still there, as can be seen above right. The house itself is long gone, although, funnily enough, part of it lives on: the plans for the building that currently occupies the site show that several external and internal walls from Kinfauns were retained in its construction, together with a portion of the floor. Also, according the Beatles' London, the "two 'porthole' lounge windows" have been retained, "now installed in a new orangery". These, of course, were the very windows that led John to believe he was "driving" a submarine at the tail end of the dental experience. Blimey. So there we go:


Many thanks to Joe Baiardi for the contemporary pics.

Sunny Heights: then & now - part 5.


I've wittered on about this at ridiculous length before, so I'll try to keep this brief: the plans showing the extent of Ringo's extension (Missus). The former site of his cinema (or projector room), much mentioned in the pages of the Beatles Book monthly, marked by the arrow:


The original house, whilst by no means a modest dwelling, was nevertheless considerably more so than by the time Messrs Bricky and Builders had finished with it...and it's even bigger today, having undergone subsequent expansion since. Here's the bit of the '65 plan showing the garage, and its outcome:


Riveting stuff.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Kinfauns, part 3: a garage, 1966.


Admittedly, this is quite dull. Nevertheless, here it is - the plan for George's garage at Kinfauns in 1966. Like John at Kenwood and Ringo at Sunny Heights, George did do reconstruction at Kinfauns, plus a lot of de-rigeur psychedelic paintwork. He did also do in 1966 a garage, in one corner of the grounds, to house his mini etc. And there it is:


There is still a garage in that corner, but probably not this one.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Kinfauns, part 2: 1960, 1965 & 1967.


And so to 1960. 5 years (or "something") before George got his hands on it, the owner decided to extend, and thus Kinfauns assumed the zig-zag shape familiar from its Beatle Belt incarnation. The thing I especially like about the 1960 plan is that the architect decided to embellish it with the name of the house, in what can only be described as proto-psychedelic lettering. Given the future history of the place, this seems like yet another "nice" co-incidence. Could it have been that the architect's cultural antennae were twitching? And that he somehow tuned into the zeitgeist, foresaw the influence this humble bungalow would have on popular culture, and let his pen do the talking? Could it really have been that?
No, of course not. Don't be so stupid. But, still, I like these things. Very much.
The house looked pretty much identical when George moved in:


After a couple of years of acid/topiary etc...not so much:


Finally, and with a finality that suggests finalitude, back to the 1960 extension plan, and the reason for the zag in George's zig: more bedrooms, apparently. I suspect this was children related in the case of the original owner. Not so in the case of George:


Part 3 to follow.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Tittenhurst: various views from sometime or other.


I have no idea when these photos are from, though it's possible they pre-date any Beatle connection; apparently, the grounds to Tittenhurst were open to the public before John and Yoko moved in, and there are no tell-tale signs evident of the usual accoutrements (Kenwood statues/caravan/donkeys/massive (and outrageous) "beard-age" etc):


The Victorian assembly hall behind the main house. Again, note the absence of statues (and Beatles), but the identical nature of everything else:


The rarely seen swimming pool, demolished after Ringo sold the property, sat adjacent to the main house:


Finally, the "front" door (actually round the side), familiar from the Imagine video. The whole place looks a bit uninhabited (assuming it's even possible for a place to be "a bit uninhabited", which I doubt) in these pics:


Innaresting. Thanks to Guus Limberger for sending them, and, as ever, to the Beatles' London guide for...guidance.
UPDATE: Guus informs me they are from 1969, but a few months before John and Yoko moved in.

Kenwood: sunroom - August, 1967.


Sarah over at Meet The Beatles has uncovered a couple more of these shots of the Quiet/Noisy ones, visiting John at Kenwood in the summer of 1967. Again, clearly the sunroom, and, again, no John, which suggests he was either the photographer, or else didn't want his photo taken that day.
Interesting to get a glimpse of one of the fans responsible for these pics; I wonder if Lizzie recognises her. There are a fair few such images in circulation now, and I'll bet around 15 pence that there are more somewhere.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Cavendish Avenue: chrome dome.


The dome, of Mad Day Out fame, en-route to the bottom of the garden at Cavendish Avenue, complete with the girlfriend of its designer, there for purely business reasons; of that there can be little doubt.
The dome provided the climax of the aforementioned Day O' Mad:


...and here is the skinny, from a contemporary newspaper report. For the journals of the time, no item of Beatle news was too trivial to report. Errr...


Many thanks to Bruno Dupont.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Kinfauns, part 1: 1953 & 1967.


Above, on the left, a sketch from the original plan of W. M. Carter, the architect who designed Kinfauns in 1953. The plan dates from August of that year, and represents "details of a proposed detached bungalow with garage to be erected at Claremont Park (The Lawn), Esher, Surrey, for R. Gray Esq.". Compare with the identical angle in a pic from 1967; the garage referred to in the plan was eventually stuck on the side of the house, adjacent to the living room.
One wonders what Messrs C and G would have made of the bungalow's highly psychedelicised state come '67 (another odd little slice of kismet on a related theme to follow in the next post).
This garage wasn't in evidence on the original floor-plan. Note that Kinfauns, in common with Kenwood and Sunny Heights, started off much smaller than it ended up:


The fireplace, also ultimately lysergicised (if you will) by the Fool, began life as follows, again from the '53 plan. The door evident in the Schwingin' Shikshtiesh shot would have led through to the aforementioned garage, though it wasn't used as such (or was it?) when George lived there:


Judging by all this, Kinfauns must have been built in late '53 or early '54 (and enlarged later). More on all this pish to follow.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Montagu Square: a blue plaque (and a piss-up).


On Saturday I attended the unveiling of a blue plaque to John, by Yoko, at Montagu Square. How weird it must have been for her to be back there after all this time. I was fortunate enough to get in to have a shufti the day before; unfortunately pics were verboten, but fascinating it was, nevertheless, and very kind of the owner. The room where the Two Virgins sleeve was shot (formerly a bedroom) is now the kitchen - but still very recognisably the same place it all once did hang. I got to spend around 20 minutes there waiting to be shown round. An interesting experience.
Outside, the following day, Yoko and "Hunt lad" did the honours, the front of the place looking pretty much identical to the time in mid-late 1968 when Yoko was last there:


Honours being honoured, Yoko went off, and everyone else proceeded round the corner to a reception, where gallons of free booze flowed, and, to a long-term Beatles saddo like me, the assembled company proved to be... stimulating. I hate name droppingGeoffreyEllisMarkLewisohnLizzieBravoBarryMilesBillHarryRoyCarrHuntladTonyBramwellTheBootlegBeatlesso I shall refrain from mentioning them that supped, and, in certain cases, endured long and gibbering dialogue with yours truly. Suffice to say that the fruits of this gibberish may appear on these pages before too long.
It was also good to finally meet Lizzie Bravo, who was sporting both a proof-copy of her book (which looked incredible) and the badge that she wore when she sang on Across The Universe. This picture accurately reflects my vision at that point. John apparently larfed at the message. As, apparently, did I.


A splendid time was had by all, and you can't say better than that.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Tittenhurst: late 1969.


By the late summer of 1969, John's facial hair had gone completely berserk. Yoko strongly advised him to shear it, and this he did, though the hair on his head wasn't to go till Denmark. Here are some photos from Tittenhurst, beard freshly defunct; the above a good view looking down from the house, the below need none more jibber jabber:


None whatsoever.

Arnhem Oosterbeek Cemetery: then & now.


The Oosterbeek War Cemetery at Arnhem provided a famous early bit of kismet, with many more to come: Their Name Liveth For Evermore, indeed. This pic captured in August 1960, en-route to Hamburg, with Lord Woodbine and The Williams(es) also much in evidence.
John, according to whom you believe, was either a) pissed (UK or US meanings, choose yer pick) in the van, refusing to come out, or b) in the cemetery, but refusing to take a pic due to anti-war sentiment (more than a bit fanciful that one, but nevertheless) or c) behind the camera, taking the pic.
Plus the same spot now, with thanks to Guus Limberger.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Kenwood (& Kinfauns): November, 1964.


This is the earliest picture of Kenwood to surface thus far - from around 4 months after John bought it. At this point there was no sunroom, and John, Cyn and Julian were all living in the attic, then still unconverted from its original layout (see Partidge plan). It's probably safe to assume that if any earlier pics come along in the future, they will be from before John's time there; and such may not even exist.
Here's the article from where the above pic came: 16 Magazine, and a straight syndication of the Chris Hutchins NME piece already featured on these pages a while back...except there's more of this, as he then goes to visit George at Kinfauns:


...which is where these pics originally came from. So they too can now be dated as November, 1964:


...or not. See comments.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Kenwood: hairy business, 1965.


Of course they couldn't just nip out for a haircut in 1965, so the hairdresser would go to them. The above obtained in that year, at Kenwood, by Betty Glasow, and currently on eBay for around £1000 per strand.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Kenwood: knee of Sydney, 1965.


Lennon Jnr the first, together with the hitherto unseen knee of Sydney, inside Kenwood circa 1965. Sydney was Ken Partridge's doing, and he (Sydney, not Partridge) stood in the entrance hall (though Partridge must also have stood in the entrance hallIamlosingthewilltolive), for a while at least:


So, was the "new" Julian pic also taken there? Note the skirting, as seen in the dining room, and the drawing room:


Again, I dunno if it was. It may have been taken in one of the above rooms when the wall mural was being taken off and exchanged for the hulking bookcase. Or not. And does it matter? Now, that I do know.

Thanks to Joe Baiardi.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Kenwood: bloody pests.


A fan photo of Cynthia at the front door, sometime in 1967 (shamelessly filched from Meet The Beatles For Real - link under Friends & Neighbours). Probably the best illustration yet of John & Terry Doran's handiwork with the spray paint - and fairly repulsive it is too.
This pic reminds me of Chris Tanner's recollections in a MOJO feature from a while back, on a theme of "Have Ye Met The Fabs?":
"Richard & I were in the 5th form at St James' Secondary School in Weybridge. This was Beatle territory in 1966. John, Paul, George & Ringo all had properties in this comfortable stockbroker belt. Richard had collected autographs from all but the "gifted" one - John Lennon. Together, on our bikes we peddled through St Georges Hills estate to the Lennon's property Kenwood. No guards on the gate (two huge oak doors carved with the names of a thousand fans). We tread the gravel driveway that sweeps through the gardens past Beatle sculptures (remember "Beatle Boots"), to the front door. Amazingly our nervous knock on the door is answered by Cynthia Lennon complete with tinted glasses. We ask if John is home and Cynthia sweetly tells us to try on Tuesday. Is this lady dumb? Allowing two non-descript schoolboys to sally forth again! Tuesday arrived and once again we knocked on the door. This time there was a protracted, nervous wait on the step. The door opened and blue jeans, t-shirt and shock of Beatle's locks greeted us. "Hi John. Err wondered if you could autograph this album" "Give it 'ere, bloody pests". John signed the album and two school chums went home very happy.
Great story but here's the crack. Me, not really into the Beatles...more a Stones man, didn't bother with John's autograph. So now I can only look back and reflect on our meeting and the fact that Richard (wherever he is) is considerably richer than me!"

Friday, 24 September 2010

Manchester Square: EMI House.


Another little bit of London long gone: down the side of EMI House in Manchester Square sat some stairs, upon which le Ringo et al squatted on 5 March, 1963. All gone now, inevitably, but still there then, in the mid-90s, when the above pic was taken by Guus Limberger.
A then & then (note Sir George keeping a watchful eye on le Ringo (et al)):


And another:


Many thanks again go to Guus.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Kenwood: gates & ghosts.


The gate at Kenwood, circa 1976, as pictured by Guus Limberger; clearly, light has corrupted the film, giving it an odd, eerie quality. Though Guus took lots of photos, this is the only one that came out.
A couple of points: the heavy sliding gate that John installed was still in use at this point; and the sign that recently appeared for sale on eBay appears to be this one:


During the 70s, Kenwood was owned by the songwriter Bill Martin. A then & now poolside shot can be found on his website HERE. Bill recently appeared on Radio Merseyside talking about his time as owner of the auld pile, and told an interesting  tale relating to the night John died and things that go smash in the night, not that you will find me repeating it here, oh no, not me.
This, o' course, is not the first bit of supernatural gubbins related by a former owner; anyone who read the John H interview on these pages will recall the ghostly bearded man in white who appeared in the attic. And Fred Lennon's then girlfriend Pauline was terrified of the place when she slept there during the latter part of 1967.
Whatever one makes of all this, Bill spins a good yarn; here's hoping he finally writes the memoir he has been threatening for the last few years.
Finally, a more recent Joe Baiardi shot showing the gate, and the buggy originally bought by Bill, which can be seen in the Thames At 6 footage. By this point it had migrated outside the grounds:


Many thanks to Guus and to Joe.