John Lennon's homes - The life of John Lennon as told through the homes in which he lived.

Part Two - London






57 Green Street, London - Home of The Beatles in 19631963
57 Green Street
Flat L, 4th floor, Mayfair, London W1
When the Beatles first began spending time in London, they stayed in hotels - initially the Royal Court in Sloane Square and then the President in Russell Square - but it soon became necessary for them to find something in the capital that they could call 'home'. Around early September 1963 they all moved into Flat L at 57 Green Street, it was the only place in which all four Beatles ever lived together. Word soon spread amongst fans and, with Beatlemania now in full swing, they mounted an almost permanent surveillance outside the front door. John left by the end of November 1963 to live with wife Cynthia and baby Julian in their own flat elsewhere. Paul then moved into the family home of his girlfriend Jane Asher, George and Ringo are then thought to have switched to a different flat in the same Green Street building.

Google Maps street level view

1963-1964
13 Emperors Gate
Brompton, Knightsbridge, London SW7 (close to Gloucester Road tube station)
From November 1963 until July 1964, under the family pseudonym 'Hadley', John, Cynthia and Julian lived here, in Flat 3 on the top fourth floor. The 3 bedroomed maisonette was secured for them by photographer Robert Freeman* who lived in Flat 2 on the floor below. In spite of the pseudonym the address soon became known among fans, many of whom would gather, daily and nightly, outside the front entrance. With Beatlemania now well and truly out of his control, John and his family were forced to flee London for the relative sanity of Weybridge, Surrey.
An entire block of houses in Emperors Gate, including number 13, was demolished in the early 1980's to make way for an office block completed in 1989.

*Freeman was responsible for many of the Beatles album and EP sleeve images, Cynthia later suspected that John had an affair with Freeman's wife.

1964-1968
Kenwood
Wood Lane, St George’s Hill Estate, Weybridge, Surrey
Home of John, Cynthia and son Julian Lennon from the end of July 1964.
John bought this 27 room mock Tudor residence for £20,000 on the 15th July 1964 at the suggestion of the Beatles' then accountant, Walter Strach, who lived three kilometres from the St George's Hill estate. John immediately ordered an extensive renovation which cost £40,000 and was designed by Ken Partridge, whose interior design work at Brian Epstein’s Knightsbridge flat had impressed him.

Having already dropped drink in favour of the comparatively benign yet illegal Marijuana by the end of 1964, it was here at Kenwood that Lennon would regularly take the infinitely more powerful, but then legal and little known "drug" LSD (a synthetic chemical which bears a structural resemblance to a neurotransmitter substance found in the brain). John and Cynthia, together with Beatle George and his wife Patti, had been given coffee spiked with d-lysergic acid diethylamide by a friend at his dinner party. John Riley, a dentist, hosted the party at his flat on Strathearn Place close to Hyde Park sometime during the first half of 1965. Despite the overwhelming effects, John & George (together with Ringo, Neil Aspinall and members of the Byrds) voluntarily took LSD for the 2nd time during a US tour break in Los Angeles.
Following the final British tour of December 1965 and three mentally exhausting years of Beatlemania, the fab four began what was basically a four month recuperation period and Lennon soon began to frequently experiment with LSD at home which gave him the inspiration to write the likes of "Tomorrow never knows", "Rain" and no doubt had a degree of influence on his thinking behind the "bigger than Jesus" statement, but the general public would remain ignorant of Lennon's drug use until over a year later. John's wife Cynthia had not enjoyed the initial LSD experience and when John persuaded her to take it again she had an equally disturbing trip*, they slowly began to drift apart from this point onwards.

*George too had experienced "the fear" during his third LSD trip in early 1966 which brought on a sensation that he had struggled to cope with as a child and, still unable to deal with it, he refused to take LSD again. But during his trip to India in the Autumn of that year, George kept hearing that he should look fear in the face and then it wouldn't bother him any more. Upon his return to England, Harrison resumed his use of LSD and on one of his post-India acid trips he decided that it would be a good idea to transform the outside of his bungalow into a psychedelic mural, which he proceeded to paint himself!

John was photographed at Kenwood during an exclusive 'at home' session with photographer Leslie Bryce on the 29th June 1967, he posed for familiar shots - many with son Julian - such as standing next to his psychedelically painted Rolls-Royce, sat by the swimming pool, playing in his music room, on a rocking horse in the nursery and in the garden - with several changes of clothes. By now he was taking LSD to the point of inducing what would now be recognised as an 'ecstasy' like high and having all but surrendered his ego to a Beatle void, he decided to go along with George and Patti's new found guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who's promise of a natural high without the aid of drugs was suddenly all the more attractive following a series of high profile celebrity drug busts*. The Beatles publicly declared that they had given up drugs in favour of transcendental meditation and vast quantities of LSD were apparently buried in the Kenwood gardens.

*The Beatles had even considered buying a Greek island on which they would build a private commune where they would be free to take drugs without fear of a visit from Sgt. Pilcher. They were conveniently away surveying potential havens at the time The Times newspaper ran an advert calling for tolerance of the private use of marijuana which all four Beatles had signed and helped to pay for.

Late in 1967 John became reasonably close to his father again, the pair had first awkwardly re-united in 1964 (almost 20 years after they had last parted company in Blackpool). There are a number of differing accounts as to exactly how the re-union occurred, but perhaps the most believable version has them meeting in Brian Epstein's office following the burst of press coverage that Alf had received once reporters had tracked him down. John's father was finally invited into 'Kenwood' three years later and this proved convivial enough to warrant him staying with the Lennon's for a significant period of time around the Christmas/New year period which, following the associations with drugs and a foreign Hindu preacher, saw the British press begin to turn against the Beatles. The inevitable backlash had been delayed out of sympathy for the tragic death of their manager Brian Epstein, but the Magical Mystery Tour film (which neither appealed to a straight or turned-on Boxing Day audience) gave the press the excuse they were looking for to put the boot in.

Google Maps aerial view
Kenwood blog

Maharishi's Meditation Centre :- 1968
Rishikesh
India
The now less than 'fab' but still very much amounting to four Beatles (and their wives) travelled to Rishikesh, India in February 1968 to stay at Maharishi's "Butlins holiday camp", actually an ashram which had been built in 1961 after obtaining a 20 year lease from the local forest department, it was located on a forlorn mountain by the River Ganges on the southern fringes of the town*. Each Beatle had his own chalet with hot and cold running water, a four-poster bed and electric heaters. Ringo recalled "We used to get up in the morning - not particularly early - and go down to the canteen for breakfast. Then, perhaps, walk about a bit and meditate or bathe. There were lectures and things all the time, but it was very much like a holiday. Really, his meditation center is all very luxurious." One by one by two, they returned, either homesick or disillusioned. John returned with Cynthia to Kenwood in April and then refocused his spiritual journey by returning to LSD which culminated in his apparent realisation that he was Jesus and he announced as much at a Beatles meeting. George, Paul & Ringo were said to be very worried.

*The Rajaji National Park was subsequently created to protect several species of animals and plants of the region in 1983, a renewal of the lease for human habitation was completely ruled out and the 15-acre site was left deserted to be reclaimed by the wild.

Yoko Ono's home :- 1967-1968
25 Hanover Gate Mansions
Park Road (Regent’s Park), Lisson Grove, Marylebone, London NW1
Yoko Ono (Born in Tokyo on the 18th February 1933) came to live here in January 1967 with her husband Tony Cox and their daughter Kyoko (Born 8th August 1963). John had been introduced to Yoko by John Dunbar on the 9th November 1966 at the Indica Gallery at 6 Mason's Yard (Off Duke Street), St James, Westminster, London SW1. As relationships gradually changed, John would become a regular visitor to Hanover Gate.
On the evening of Sunday 19th May 1968, with Cynthia away in Greece and Tony Cox in France, John privately entertained Yoko at 'Kenwood' by recording what would become their Two Virgins album in John's upstairs music studio, a room that was equipped with several tape recorders, an organ, a piano, a Mellotron and various guitars. Cynthia returned the next day to find the two of them sat together in the 'Morning room'.
On the 10th December 1968, 'Kenwood' was put up for sale following John and Cynthia's divorce on the 8th November. Yoko moved out of Hanover Gate soon after the night of Two Virgins.

Google Maps street level view

1968
7 Cavendish Avenue
St John’s Wood, London NW8
Paul McCartney had bought this three storey detached house in March 1965, eventually moving in over a year later with Jane Asher in the August of 1966. Conveniently placed, with EMI studios in Abbey Road only five minutes walk away, John was a frequent visitor - including the night of March 21st 1967 after he had accidentally taken LSD instead of the intended "Uppers" during a Sgt.Pepper album recording session. Paul brought John back to Cavendish Avenue and decided to join him in what would be only McCartney's second LSD trip, he recalled the experience 30 years later.....
"We looked into each other's eyes, the eye contact thing we used to do, which is fairly mind-boggling. You dissolve into each other..... It was a very freaky experience and I was totally blown away. There's something disturbing about it..........I would walk out into the garden -"Oh no, I've got to go back in."....... In the meantime John had been sitting around very enigmatically and I had a big vision of him as a king, the absolute Emperor of Eternity......
I'd just had enough after about four or five hours. John was quite amazed that it had struck me in that way. John said, "Go to bed? You won't sleep!" - "I know that, I've still got to go to bed."...... But of course you don't just sleep off an acid trip so I went to bed and hallucinated a lot in bed. I remember Mal coming up and checking that I was all right. 'Yeah, I think so.' I mean, I could feel every inch of the house, and John seemed like some sort of emperor in control of it all. It was quite strange."
Over a year later, with the recording of the White Album beginning to take shape, John and Yoko temporarily lived here as guests of Paul and his then companion Francie Schwartz. Schwartz later recalled that John had appeared quite upset one morning having found a letter that simply read “You and your Jap tart think you’re hot shit.”. John was even more hurt when he discovered that the author of this piece was Paul. Lennon was said to have given McCartney a look that said “Do I know you?”. Their stay here was very brief. From here John and Yoko spent a few nights at a flat owned by Peter Brown (Apple Executive Director) and then about a week with Neil Aspinall.

Google Maps street level view*
*Unfortunately, Paul's security team asked Google to remove the house from street level view. If you look at the pic on the link, his house is to the right of what would have been the next picture ahead (Google's own house numbering system on this road was still mixed up last time I looked, what they claim to be no.7 is actually no.3).

34 Montagu Square, London - Home of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 19681968
34 Montagu Square
Marylebone, London W1
The ground floor and basement maisonette was leased to Ringo Starr from early 1965, though he was to live here for only a short time before marrying Maureen Cox and finding a proper house ('Sunny Heights' in Weybridge). Ringo chose to keep the lease and sublet the flat to friends, one being Jimi Hendrix who shared it with his manager Chas Chandler in 1967. Then, for a short time in late 1967, John's mother-in-law Lilian Powell stayed here.

It was in July 1968 that Ringo allowed John and his new girlfriend to move in, Julian stayed with Cynthia, Yoko's daughter Kyoko remained with Tony Cox. During their time living at the flat, John and Yoko shot the controversial nude cover photographs for their album Two Virgins, Apple employee Tony Bramwell having set up the camera for them and rushing away before any clothes were shed.

Yoko is credited for being able to steer John away from LSD but only with the help of Heroin which he began taking shortly after moving in to this flat. Yoko recalled "George says it was me who put John on heroin, but that wasn't true. John wouldn't take anything he didn't want to take. John was very curious, he asked if I had ever tried it. I told him that while he was in India with the Maharishi, I had a sniff of it in a party situation. I didn't know what it was. They just gave me something and I said What was that? It was a beautiful feeling. John was talking about Heroin one day and he said Did you ever take it? and I told him about Paris - I said it wasn't bad, I think because the amount was small I didn't even get sick, it was just a nice feeling, so I told him that. When you take it - 'properly' isn't the right word - but when you do a little more, you get sick right away if you're not used to it. So I think maybe because I said it wasn't a bad experience, that had something to do with John taking it."*

*Although he never resorted to injecting it, John was to some degree addicted to Heroin and then the Heroin substitute Methadone for the next 4 years. It is not clear whether he ever took LSD again, but certainly not to the point where it became significant. He would however go on to seek out naturally growing psychedelic alternatives in the late 1970's.

It was here at Ringo's flat that police arrived for an expected drug-raid at 11:30am on Friday 18th October 1968, only to discover a small quantity of cannabis resin. The press reported that 27. 3 grains of cannabis were found in an envelope in a suitcase and that a sniffer dog discovered a further 191.8 grains in a binocular case on the living room mantelpiece, yet this was still enough to justify John and Yoko's arrest.
John later insisted it was planted as he had cleaned the place out after being tipped off that a raid may be imminent, but in court the following day John pleaded guilty in the hope that any potential charges against Yoko would be dropped as she was not a UK citizen and could be deported, her pregnancy was announced to the press 7 days later with the couple having to wait until November 28th 1968 for their full court hearing.
Yoko had suffered some discomfort in the womb on the day of the bust and just over two weeks later (on November 4th) after further complications, she was admitted into Room No.1, Second West Ward of the Queen Charlotte Hospital, Hammersmith, London. Yoko suffered a miscarriage on the 21st November, the foetus was mature enough to require a death certificate which in turn required a name, John named the child John Ono Lennon II and had a tiny coffin made, the baby was buried at a secret location. They had left the hospital on the 25th November.
Back at Marylebone Magistrates Court, 181 Marylebone Road, London on the 28th, John was convicted of possessing an illegal drug and fined £150 plus costs, no charges were brought against Yoko. As a result of the conviction, in February 1969, landlords Brymon Estates sought and won an injunction against Ringo to prevent illegal, immoral or improper' use of the flat, after which he sold his lease.

Google Maps street level view

1968-1969
Sunny Heights
South Road, St George’s Hill Estate, Weybridge
Back on 24th July 1965 Ringo had followed the example set by John Lennon and bought a large mock Tudor house on the St George's Hill estate, less than a kilometre from 'Kenwood'. He and new wife Maureen moved in soon afterwards and stayed for three years until the 19th November 1968 when, now with two children, they moved having bought Peter Sellar's house in Elstead. In their place, temporarily, came John and Yoko - forced out of 'Kenwood' after John and Cynthia's divorce and also from Ringo's Central London flat in Montagu Square after their drug bust. Ringo's continuing generosity ensured that John and Yoko had a suitable roof over their heads until they were ready to buy a property of their own. In May 1969, Ringo sold 'Sunny Heights'

1969
The Inn On The Park
Hamilton Place, Park Lane, London W1
John & Yoko bought Tittenhurst Park in May 1969 but didn't actually move in to their new house in Ascot until three months later due to renovation work. Through the early summer months they stayed in this hotel and John would return here the following year when work on a home studio interrupted his initial primal therapy sessions with Arthur Janov.
 

1969-1971
Tittenhurst
London Road, Sunningdale, Ascot.
On behalf of John Lennon, his publishing company - Maclen, bought this fine Georgian house and 72 acre estate on 4th May 1969 for £145,000. After moving in on the 11th August John and Yoko lived here for just over two years. The gardens, named Tittenhurst Park, had been open to the public until the Lennon’s moved in, they date back to 1763 (at a place then known as 'Cracks Hole, in the Parish of Sunninghill') and are internationally renowned among dendrologists for their scores of interesting trees, many rare. Originally, the main house comprised many small (well, smallish) rooms, but walls were ripped out at John and Yoko's request to create more open space. Much of the ground floor at the front of the house was converted to a single large room, decorated in white.

Tittenhurst Park was the location for the final photo session showing the four Beatles together to promote the forthcoming Abbey Road album, an historic event which took place on Friday 22nd August 1969 (two days after their last recording session together). Having had his latest composition (an ode to heroin withdrawal) rejected by the Beatles, John finally finished the group at an Apple board meeting a month later on the 20th September 1969, John then recorded "Cold Turkey" as the Plastic Ono Band, completing it on the 5th October. Four days later (on John’s 29th Birthday) Yoko was admitted to hospital where she suffered another miscarriage on October 12th.

Throughout 1970 an eight track recording studio was gradually installed at Tittenhurst, as well as film editing equipment. But the studio, named Ascot Sound, wouldn't be ready until the following year. During the building of the studio, in March 1970, the Lennon's invited the author of the 1969 publication “The Primal scream - Primal Therapy: The cure of neurosis” Arthur Janov to their home for a trial run of primal therapy sessions. John & Yoko's relationship had entered a very difficult phase during February, possibly brought on by the problems in gaining access to their children - Julian had only enjoyed sporadic contact with John since the divorce of his parents as communication between John and Cynthia had become increasingly strained. Yoko then thought it would be better if Cynthia could speak to her and not to John when discussing Julian's visits because John would now talk to Tony when discussing Kyoko, but Cynthia was not at all happy with this arrangement. John decided to visit Julian alone, but the visit was cut short when Yoko made a frantic call for him to return. This stressful period was enough to warrant Yoko being admitted to a London clinic at 20 Devonshire Place between the 5th & 9th March 1970 before Janov's arrival refocused them onto something more positive. On 29th March John revealed that Yoko was pregnant during a telephone message of support to a CND gathering. On April fools day, a hoax John & Yoko press release stated that they had entered a London Clinic for a dual sex-change operation, but in truth they were now deeply involved with the primal therapy sessions. Due to the work on the Tittenhurst studio disturbing them, they then moved (at Janov's suggestion) into separate hotels, John moved into The inn on the Park, Yoko the Londonderry but this was still not ideal and Janov then recommended they fly out to Los Angeles to resume their treatment at his Primal institute at 900 Sunset Drive, this they did on 23rd April, flying to the USA to continue their therapy renting accommodation at 841 Nimes Road, Bel Air.

On May 22nd 1970, whilst John & Yoko were away in America, the Tittenhurst Park renovators called out the bomb squad when they discovered an unexploded incendiary shell. On 31st July 1970, Cynthia married Roberto Bassanini at Kensington Register office in London. Around the same time John and Yoko decided to leave Janov before their treatment was complete - There have been a number of very different reasons given as to why they came to this decision, one being that they didn't want to be filmed, but this was apparently not the case - it was an integral part of the therapy to be filmed and then look back at the videotapes of the sessions. Janov later suggested that immigration problems forced the issue, but as John & Yoko appear to have remained in the USA for a period after their treatment, the departure was probably down to the Lennon's deciding that they had gone as far as they felt they could go with it. From California the Lennon's headed for New York, eventually returning to England on September 24th by which time Yoko had suffered another miscarriage (in August) and John was now 28lbs heavier than when he left the UK back in April due to “eating 28 different colours of ice-cream”. The drug free period of lucid insight spawned their finest works, the soul-bearing cathartic twin Plastic Ono Band albums which would be recorded at Abbey Road in September and October 1970.

It was back at Tittenhurst that John saw his father for the final time when Alfred came to visit John on his 30th Birthday (Friday 9th October 1970), this was to be the only time John would meet his half brother, David Henry Lennon (born in Brighton, February 1969). John used this opportunity to finally unleash his pain and anger that he had oppressed for 24 years and he told his father to get out of his life. A reconciliation of sorts, over the telephone, occurred shortly before Alfred Lennon died in a Brighton hospital on the 1st April 1976 aged 63, by which time John had a 2nd half brother - Robin Francis Lennon (born in 1973) who he never met.

John's ex-wife Cynthia has suggested that Julian didn't see his father for 3 years (between 1971 and 1974) because John failed to make any contact, however there is film of Julian at Tittenhurst in the summer of 1971 and this was only a short time before John and Yoko left the country for good, so perhaps the Atlantic ocean had as much to do with the breakdown in John and Julian's relationship as anything else. Years later, in a letter to his cousin Leila Harvey (dated 30th July 1977), John complained that Cynthia only allowed Julian to visit him twice a year and that she insisted on coming along herself, then he revealed that Cynthia had stopped Julian phoning him.

During 1971 the Lennon’s were spending a lot of their time trying to track down and gain custody of Yoko's daughter, this required many trips abroad, especially to the United States. Although they didn’t know it at the time, 12th August 1971 would be their last day together at Tittenhurst and indeed in England. The following day they left for New York in their long drawn out and ultimately unsuccessful Kyoko quest, never to return. John later said (in 1976) that his failure to gain custody of Kyoko was one of two regrets that he had in life, the other being the severing of the relationship with his father following Primal Therapy.

Back in England, the Lennon's team of assistants maintained Tittenhurst in the knowledge that John and Yoko, who would soon have a deportation order hanging over them, could return at any time. Finally, in September 1973 as John and Yoko were about to separate, Tittenhurst was sold to Ringo Starr. Ringo lived here until early 1988, selling to the ruler of Abu Dhabi (Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan). In 1989/1990 the house and grounds underwent extensive rebuilding, including the erection of a three-metre-high security wall around the entire estate. During this £55 million renovation, almost all of the Lennon/Starkey fittings were scrapped.

Google Maps aerial view

Source material for this article includes books listed in the Library,  most notably Keith Badman's "The Beatles - After the break up", Schreuders, Lewisohn & Smith's excellent guidebook "The Beatles London", Q magazine's Beatle's special and Peter Brown's "The love you make".

Page last updated August 2012
 
 

Part One - Liverpool

Part Three - New York City

You Are The Plastic Ono Band