John & Yoko’s Dream Home – Tittenhurst Park

By Madeline Bocaro ©

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John and Yoko’s dream home, Tittenhurst Park housed Ascot Studios where John recorded his album and film Imagine. The gorgeous white house and sprawling property is an idyllic backdrop for the film, lending a Camelot like atmosphere (although some of movie was also shot in New York City). The Beatles’ final photo session was taken on the grounds, resulting in the ‘Hey Jude’ album cover shot, and also the sleeve for the single ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’.

The estate was located in Ascot, about 30 miles from Abbey Road studios. John and Yoko bought the Georgian style house and property on May 4, 1969 for £145,000. They moved in that August with an entourage of assistants. A Krishna swami and his devotees introduced to the Lennons by George Harrison soon occupied the temple on the property.

Tittenhurst has magnificent gardens with trees imported from different countries (as Yoko later achieved with the Strawberry Fields memorial for John New York City’s Central Park). The gardens included one of the tallest cedar trees in England. John and Yoko installed a man-made lake, creating a small island on which they placed a little white bungalow. An unexploded bomb was found when digging to make the lake.

The large residence and all the buildings surrounding it including a temple were pure white. Yoko laid white carpeting throughout the house. Huge windows and white walls bathed the rooms in sunlight. It was the perfect place for John and Yoko to live, yet they spent only a short time there. When they left in 1971 for New York, John was never to return to England again.

When John and Yoko moved to New York City permanently in the summer of 1971, they sold the property to Ringo Starr who enjoyed it for several years.  In 1988 Ringo sold Tittenhurst Park for £5 million to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Abu Dhabi.

Ascot Sound Studios, where Imagine was recorded was renamed Startling Studios by Ringo and was rented to many bands including T. Rex and Judas Priest.

This Squeeze video was made in the kitchen at Tittenhurst Park!!
The lines “alone here in the kitchen / I feel that something’s missing” always remind me of it now!

Def Leppard recorded their first album there in 1979. The cover art for their 2008 album Songs from the Sparkle Lounge (resembling the RINGO album cover) features someone in the crowd holding up a ‘This Is Not Here’ sign, like the etched glass window above the door of Tittenhurst Park. Joe Elliott (singer) had been unaware – until I told him – that ‘This Is Not Here’ was a concept art piece by Yoko, and also the title of her exhibition at Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY. It ran from October 9 (John Lennon’s 31st birthday) through October 21, 1971 featuring works by Yoko, John and several of their friends. The Everson show was a major Fluxus related event and a semi-retrospective of Yoko’s career.

In the early 1960s Tittenhurst Park was owned by Peter Cadbury, a business tycoon (once a test pilot). He cultivated the grounds to make a tree museum which he opened to the public for charity. The gardens had taken 300 years to plan and to plant. The multitudes of rare trees and flowers included Chinese palms, Nevada redwoods, cedars of Lebanon, weeping cherry trees from Japan, rare camelias, 30 varieties of magnolias, catalpas with monkey puzzle trees, copper oaks, beeches and cypruses.

Watch an old Pathe video of the grounds here:

Peter Cadbury Tree Museum Aka Tycoon At Home, AKA Peter Cadbury At Home, AKA Tree Museum (1963)

A British Pathe film:

A big white house surrounded by immaculate gardens – the home of a 300-year old ‘tree museum’ full of examples of rare plants and trees.  Peter Cadbury, owner of the house and gardens, drives a tractor across a lawn, in the background is small wooden cottage. A topiary arch over the beautifully landscaped garden – Peter opens the gardens to the public to raise money for charities.

 

Tittenhurst Park, Part 2 – The Transformation

The new decor @ Tittenhurst (circa 1989) is Sheik, not chic!!

Picture yourself descending the famous staircase where beautiful Yoko with her gloved hands, elegantly held her cigarette in its long holder while walking downstairs in the Imaginefilm (at the start of ‘Mrs. Lennon’). Look to your left and see framed photographs of camels and sheiks on the wall (replacing Yoko’s three Hammer a Nail In paintings). Look to your right and see ornate Ming vases.

Stroll through the once pristine sprawling white house and you will be stunned by the heavy burden of patterned curtains blocking the gorgeous windows of the great white room. Once bright and sunny, it is now devoid of light. The wall which John and Yoko had removed to make the room larger now partitions it once again. Behold the space where the white piano stood – it is virtually unrecognizable. Framed paintings of Arab Sheiks adorn the walls. A busily patterned rug replaces the pure white carpet. Look around and marvel at statues made of gold. Look up and see gigantic chandeliers. This hodgepodge of design must be due to the varied tastes of the Sheik’s 12 wives!! It seems that they could not agree at all! But they have toothbrushes made of gold! And they only spend four weeks a year at Tittenhurst.

A judge deemed some of their alterations as vandalism and imposed a monetary penalty!

Also See:

The Dreamers

https://madelinex.com/2018/02/21/the-dreamers/

And:

Imagine – The Restoration 2018

(My film review)

https://madelinex.com/2018/09/18/john-yoko-imagine-the-restoration/

 

Check out Scott Cardinal’s wonderful volumes of books about Tittenhurst Park!

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=tittenhurst+park

 

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THE TRANSFORMATION:

 

 

 

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9 thoughts on “John & Yoko’s Dream Home – Tittenhurst Park

  1. This is absolutely incredible! I thought I knew everything there was to know about John and Yoko’s time at Tittenhurst – and I was wrong. I love your blog. Thank you for sharing!

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  2. Hi Madeline . I live in Sunningdale and I am a 15 minute walk from Tittenhurst Park .I have a little story in September 1969 John and Yoko George and Pattie went to an antique shop in Ascot high street called the old clock house ,my sister worked there she showed them round the very large shop knowing I was a beatles fan she phoned my school to ask if she could pick me up to meet them , the school replied yes if he was here I often would skip school which my family did not know about .so I missed my chance to meet them but she did get their autographs , Enjoyed your blog .Phil C.

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  3. Interesting stuff, Madeline! That Peter Cadbury film is amazing! I lived in Ascot from 1973 to 1982. I became a Beatles fan in 1976, and slowly became aware that I lived in close proximity to both Tittenhurst Park and Friar Park, the latter being about 30 minutes drive away. I used to cycle up to the gates of Tittenhust Park from time to time. They were rarely open, but Ringo drove passed in a Porsche one time, in about 1981 I think. I also saw George in a baby blue Rolls Royce in Reading, in 1979. He had his King Charles II hair do!

    The closest link was that I had a school friend called Timothy Patterson, who lived in a house nearby, round the back of the Tittenhurst estate on a country lane. Tim was also friends with Zak Starkey, who was our age. He had been taught the rudiments of how to play the drums by Keith Moon, who also lived there for a time. Zak had a 15th birthday party in an outbuilding called The Stables, and one of his first bands, called Satellite, played. I never got to go for some reason, but Tim did, and told me about it at school the next day!

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  4. Hi Madeline,your site is very interesting.I am from the great city of Liverpool were it all began,I have been a huge Beatles fan all my life & remember waking up as a kid to the imagine song & video playing constantly on the tv & realising it was because of the horrendous news that the most famous man in the world & one of our own John Lennon has been murdered.Since that day the image of titenhurst park stayed with me & I always wanted to visit it.Last week me & my wife made the journey from Liverpool to the house,I was very exited to see it,(well the gates anyway),but as I approached I was told by the uk security guards that look after the place that I would not be allowed to take any photos of the gates ect,because the current Arab owners are in residence & are guarded by Moroccan army members & if I approached the gates or tried to take photos I would be stopped by thease Moroccan guards whose methods are not the same as the English security guards.Anyway I had come along way to see Johns house & was not going to be told I couldn’t take a couple of photos,so I said those Moroccan guards have no jurisdiction in the uk,this was not an embassy or official residence & I was on the public highway,I am perfectly allowed to approach the gates of Buckingham palace were the queen of England lives & take as many photos as I like.So although the experience really upset us both I still took some photos whilst standing on the public highway.My friend owns a flying school so I might ask him to fly me over the house next time.Please send me anymore photos of the house you have. We have thousands of tourists here every year to view the Beatles houses & sites ect & everyone in Liverpool makes them feel welcome & will have a friendly chat with them & tell them what they know.Shame it’s not like that in Berkshire.

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    1. Hi Steven,
      Thanks for your nice words about my blog. How cool that you visited Tittenhurst. Even more amazing that you stood up to the guards and protested their photography ban. I hope you got some good ones. Could you see the house from where you were standing? It is so sad that it is now owned by people ‘outside of the family’. It was nice when Ringo owned it and the recording studio was still up and running for other artists. I would like to see your photos – and others that you may take if you ever get that fly-over experience!
      I hope you will enjoy some of my other John/Yoko stories on my blog.
      All the best,
      Madeline

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