Tittenhurst Park

This Tittenhurst Park blog is dedicated to John Lennon's home in Sunningdale, near Ascot, Berkshire between 1969 and 1971. The aim is to gather as much material relating to the estate as possible - obviously with the emphasis on the Lennon-era, but also concerning Tittenhurst Park as it was before and after John Lennon's ownership. In addition, there will be posts about and associated with the Beatles, plus any other rubbish I feel like. The blog is purely meant for the entertainment of anyone (assuming there is actually anyone) who, like me, has an unhealthy interest in one particular Georgian mansion. Those with anything interesting to contribute in the way of links, photos, scans, stories etc. please do contact me: tittenhurstlennon@gmail.com
(Legal: this blog is strictly non-commercial. All material is the property of the photographer/artist/copyright holder concerned. Any such who wishes a picture etc to be removed should contact me and I will do so. Alternatively, if someone is happy to see their photo on here, but would like a credit/link then let me know and I'll be happy to provide one).


John Lennon and Yoko Ono 1969-1971/2


On December 15, 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono launched an international advertising campaign for peace in twelve of the world’s major cities: Athens, Berlin, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York, Paris, Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago), Rome, Tokyo and Toronto. Huge billboards in each national language went up in strategic locations, proclaiming “WAR IS OVER! If you want it. Happy Christmas from John & Yoko.” The format varied with the available space, ranging from immense billboards in New York’s Times Square to posters and handout flyers, all bearing the same message. The campaign kicked off with the “Peace for Christmas” benefit for UNICEF at London’s Lyceum Theatre on that same December 15, with the Plastic Ono Band assembling George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann and Keith Moon of the Who for the occasion. The following day, John Lennon and Yoko Ono took the peace campaign to Toronto, and met with Canadian prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. On December 21, an ad with their “war is over” message appeared in the New York Times. The “War Is Over” peace campaign continued in 1971 with the song “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” recorded with the children of the Harlem Community Choir. Again taking up the “war is over! If you want it” message in its chorus, it was a worldwide hit. No longer a simple example of artistic expression, the song has gone down in history as a radical action, a manifesto of politically committed art, a precursor of artist Jenny Holzer’s advertising sign aphorisms criticizing consumer society and the work of Barbara Kruger, among others.


John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s political commitment resounds throughout the magnificent Imagine, Lennon’s second solo album, which offers the world a new dream—that of a world at peace. “If you can imagine a world at peace, with no denominations of religion—not without religion, but without this “my God is bigger than your God” thing—then it can be true.” In March 1971 Lennon wrote the album’s title song, its lyrics inspired by the Yoko Ono book Grapefruit. “In it are a lot of pieces saying imagine this, imagine that,” he remembered. “Yoko actually helped me a lot with the lyrics, but I wasn’t man enough to let her have credit for it . . . I was still full of wanting my own space after being in a room with the guys all the time, having to share everything.” Recorded in one week by the two of them, along with the legendary Phil Spector, at their Tittenhurst Park home, this last album before their American exile has over the years emerged as the great classic of Lennon’s solo career. The couple chose personal, dreamlike images to illustrate the album’s ten songs in the film Imagine. Shot throughout the summer and fall of 1971 in New York, London and Japan, Imagine was a complete change from the experimental films they had previously made. Originally intended to be shown on television when the album was released, the fi lm was designed to provide visuals for the pre-existing soundtrack. As Yoko Ono declared, they just wanted to do whatever came into their heads day by day. The spontaneity of certain improvised scenes and the surrealistic atmosphere of the sequences shot on the grounds of Tittenhurst Park imbued the fi lm with a sure poetry echoing the album’s utopian


John Lennon and Yoko Ono settled in New York, which Lennon declared the Rome of the day. Following the period of creative seclusion at Tittenhurst Park, they discovered a stimulating artistic and political environment, became friendly with Bob Dylan again, spent time with Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman (the left-leaning leaders of the Youth International Party), got to know members of the Black Panther Party, supported the women’s liberation movement (“Woman is the Nigger of the World”), and played an active role in many political demonstrations. In spring 1972, John Lennon and Yoko Ono went into the studio to record Some Time in New York City, which reflected their commitment to the causes of the far left, as well as addressed the violence in Northern Ireland. When, after months of harassment, US Immigration insistently asked them to leave the country, John Lennon and Yoko Ono came up with the idea of inventing a nation according to the principles set down in “Imagine.” On April 1, 1973, they gave a press conference announcing the creation of NUTOPIA, “a conceptual country” that “has no land, no boundaries, no passports, only people.” NUTOPIA was a country that belonged to everyone; its flag was a simple white handkerchief and the “Nutopian International Anthem,” which appeared on the album Mind Games, consisted of a few seconds of silence. This conceptual country and silent anthem turned the page on the five years that Lennon and Ono’s words and actions in favour of peace had sounded around the world. This new, blank page marked—until its tragically struck down renewal in 1980—the end of the musical and artistic dialogue they had begun in 1968. Following the tumult of what has been called his “lost weekend,” Lennon, at peace with himself, away from the media in the solitude of the Dakota, created a new purpose for his life: to be the man beyond the icon.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” sang John Lennon on his last album, Double Fantasy, released after five years of silence in November 1980. One of its songs, “Watching the Wheels,” as he shared with an interviewer, told how “the hardest thing is facing yourself. It’s easier to shout ‘Revolution’ and ‘Power to the People’ than it is to look at yourself and try to find out what’s real inside you and what isn’t, when you’re pulling the wool over your own eyes. That’s the hardest one.” On December 8, 1980, at the age of forty, John Lennon was assassinated at the entrance of his Dakota home.

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