Stumbled upon an interesting article on the BBC website about John Lennon’s former home Tittenhurst Park near Ascot, Berkshire in England. It reminded me how much it has formed a part of the imagery surrounding record covers in my collection, and probably in yours. These albums, along with videos and publicity shots taken at Tittenhurst, have gone into the collective consciousness.
Fans will know of this mansion house because although Lennon and Yoko Ono only lived there for around two years it featured in many a photo session, song video and documentary about John Lennon and the Beatles. There were in fact a huge number of photographs taken there – probably the most famous being the front and rear cover images for the Beatles best-of album known variously as “The Beatles Again/Hey Jude” (released in 1970 in the USA), and “Hey Jude” (released in 1979 in the UK):
This image, also taken at the house, was used for the rear cover:
The next most famous images from Tittenhurst Park (which by the way is on London Road at a place called Sunningdale – one blogger has dedicated an entire blog to the house) came about when Lennon recorded his “Imagine” album there in 1971. When the song “Imagine” was released as a single it was accompanied by this now legendary video which begins with John and Yoko walking through the fog-filled extensive grounds of Tittenhurst, and ends in an all-white main room inside the house:
There’s also a fantastic scene from “Gimme Some Truth”, the documentary on the making of the “Imagine” album, where John talks to a young man who turns up at the house and invites him in for breakfast.
And of course the cover photograph for “Plastic Ono Band” (1970) was also taken in the grounds of the manor – beside the man-made lake the Lennon’s had constructed on the property:
There’s a fairly comprehensive article about Tittenhurst Park in Wikipedia. John subsequently sold the property to Ringo Starr. Lennon biographer Philip Norman wrote:
“Ringo had…recently bought Tittenhurst Park, in the same obliging spirit that a Liverpool pal might take over some old banger of a car. John hated the thought that his rolling parklands and lake had gone forever, and drew comfort from Ringo’s promise that a bedroom would always be kept for him there.” (“John Lennon – The Life”. Harper Collins, 2008)
Sadly the events of 1980 meant that was no longer a requirement. The house and grounds were again sold in 1988 to present owner, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emitrates and ruler of Abu Dhabi.
On Friday, August 22, 1969 the Beatles final photo session as a band was at Tittenhurst. The dream was over.