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 : "Man Of The Decade" documentary filmed at Tittenhurst Park December 1969

"Man Of The Decade" was a documentary screened on commercial UK television, in colour, on the penultimate day of the 1960's. Mark Lewisohn’s quintessential Beatles reference book The Complete Beatles Chronicle includes the following information on the programme...
"It was a measure of the the imprint he left on the 1960's that when asked to choose the person whom he felt to have been the man of the decade, the sociologist and anthropologist Dr Desmond Morris chose John Lennon. Morris was one of three eminent people asked to make such a choice, the broadcaster Alistair Cooke selecting John F Kennedy, and the writer Mary McCarthy opting for Ho Chi Minh. Having made their selections, each was commissioned by ATV to compile a 20 minute documentary to support his/her choice, the resulting one hour of material forming ‘Man Of The Decade’ networked by ATV on Tuesday 30th December 1969 10:30-11:30pm. John’s section was the last. John was naturally delighted to have been accorded such an honour, especially by the esteemed Morris. The cornerstone of the 20 minute section was an interview given by John with Yoko, to Morris on the 2nd December 1969 at Tittenhurst Park, out walking in the expansive, arboricultural grounds. The 20 minutes also included short extracts of Beatles/Lennon film, which John was anxious to choose personally, getting together with Morris to do so in a Soho viewing theatre a few days earlier."
What follows is a transcript of the third and final part of the programme introduced by Desmond Morris from the TV studio.
Part Three caption with a film clip of a crowd of people singing Give Peace A Chance.
Desmond Morris : "John Lennon, ‘Man of the decade’. Now you may be shocked at the idea of setting up a Beatle alongside such men as Kennedy and Ho Chi Minh. I too find the comparison shocking, but for a special reason - The inheritors of the inspiration of Ho Chi Minh, who we are told, have buried their prisoners alive with their hands tied behind their backs. And it’s the inheritors of the inspiration of Kennedy, who we are told, have shot down and massacred tiny children and old ladies. Yes I am shocked by the comparison, the Beatles certainly aren’t in that league. They exploded into the sixties as nothing more than a source of immense pleasure and excitement for millions of young, and some not so young, people. But then they went on to become symbols of something more, symbols of a youthful irreverence and a light hearted rejection of the growing staleness and hypocrisy of an increasingly materialistic culture. The rebellion of youth in the 1960's is all too often measured in terms of brick throwing extremists, the pathetic paradox of violent anti-violence, but this is too easy, it’s a convenient but gross distortion of what’s really been happening in the minds of the younger generation, and it has precious little to do with the great wave of exhilaration that started to spread as the Beatle phenomenon began to work its magic."
Film clip of If I Fell from the A Hard Days Night movie
John (walking alongside Yoko in the grounds of his Tittenhurst home): "It was like the thing I was saying that starts with us two. When it started with me, George, Paul and Ringo, and we said ‘listen man, here’s another field of professionalism that doesn’t need any qualifications except that you’ve gotta get down to it and wanna do it and you can make it in terms of the world, you can make it without that pressure of the 11+, GCSE etc.' and all that. And everybody was finding this out at the same time, I mean - I had my guitar, Mick Jagger had his in London, Eric Burdon was up in Newcastle and we were all going through the same changes at once and we all discovered that the values didn’t mean a thing and you could make it without college and education and all those things. It’s nice to be able to read and write but apart from that, I never learnt anything worth a damn."
Desmond Morris (back in studio) : The message was simple enough, if you had talent and energy you could beat the system - you could have a ball, and to hell with the traditional values and the traditional symbols. The '60s for instance was the decade in which having a local accent ceased to be a social hindrance and could even be an asset, the decade in which social foreground became more important than social background. Now, whether you admire or despise this message is irrelevant, we are looking at history of what actually happened in the '60s, and a mounting irreverence for the older generation is certainly what happened, like it or not, with the Beatles very much in the forefront of the movement.
Movie clips from A Hard Day's Night - first the sequence with the old business gentleman: "I travel on this train regularly........I fought the war for your sort" Ringo: "I bet you‘re sorry you won” and the mock press interview sequence. Also from Help! “So this is the famous Beatles.", Lennon "So this is the famous Scotland yard eh?”.
Morris : Despite early resistance to the Beatles on the part of the establishment, and it’s amusing today to think back to the outrage those neat little hairstyles caused in the early days, their success was unstoppable and rapidly reached a proportion hither to unknown in the entire world of entertainment. Beatlemania was on its way.
Film clips of hysterical girls at airports, clip from Shea stadium 1965 - I'm Down
John : You start off with say, Rock 'n' roll in the late '50s and '60s when all the kids, including me, were sort of all James Dean and Elvis and fairly paranoid and violent, [An obvious edit at this point, possibly done at the last minute due to the subject matter] and then that part of the trip.......that’s what happens on acid folks!, then from there you start maturing or thinking about the trip, the first effects of the drug wear off and you start coasting along a bit and you have time to look at the trees. And that developed into the actual acid scene, the psychedelic bit and everybody was grooving around with flowers and that, then of course - like any drug, it wears off and you’re back to so called reality.
All You Need Is Love is played but illustrated with mute footage from the recording of Hey Jude and the Something promo (they probably had to use alternate footage because rival station BBC television owned exclusive rights to the Our World broadcast).
John : Some people discovered a new reality and some people are still sort of - confident about the future - like we two are, everybody’s talking about all the ‘way it’s going’ and ‘the decadence’ and the rest of it, but not many people are noticing all the good that’s come out over the last 10 years, which is the moratorium and the vast gathering of people in Woodstock - which is the biggest mass of people ever gathered together for anything other than war - nobody had that big an army that didn’t kill somebody or have some kind of violent scene like the Romans or whatever, even a Beatle concert was more violent than that and that was just 50,000. And so the good things that came out were all this vast peaceful movement.
Brief clip of Give Peace A Chance.
John : The bully, that’s the establishment, they know how to beat people up, they know how to gas them and they have the arms and the equipment. The mistake was made that the kids ended up playing their game of violence, you know, and they know how to be violent because they’ve been running it on violence for 2,000 years or a million or whatever it is. And nobody can tell me that violence is the way after all that time, there must be another way, but a lot of people fell for it and it’s understandable in a way because when the bully’s actually right there it’s pretty hard to say ‘turn the other cheek baby’. When we were in touch with the Berkeley kids during that, whatever was going on, we were peacefully doing our peace demonstration in Montreal [bed-in] and then we were suddenly connected by phone directly to them, and they were saying ‘help us’ or ‘what are we gonna do, it’s gonna go wrong’ and this was some of the people organising it, but they were saying ‘It’s out of control and what can we say?’ and of course - I haven’t got any solutions....
Film clip from the Bed In movie of John & Yoko talking to Berkeley students via telephone... John : OK listen, there’s no park worth losing your life for, I don’t believe in anything else and I don’t believe there’s any park or anything worth getting shot for and you can do better by moving on to another city or go to Canada or go anywhere and then they’ve got nothing to attack and nobody to point a finger at.....
Morris : Clearly John Lennon has undergone a major change since the early days of Beatlemania, even more precisely I suppose, there’s been a whole series of changes, a kind of search, what to do really with the new won freedom. He’s tried writing books, acting in films, going off to meditate in Asia, experimenting with drugs or more recently - surrealist events and happenings. Now if you’re anti Lennon, you can write all this off as a frantic attempt to escape from reality to avoid the responsibility of the enormous worldwide influence over the young which the Beatles, willy nilly, had acquired. If you’re pro Lennon, you can see it rather as a voyage of exploration, a quest for something which, on one hand owes no allegiance to the in-trenched right wing traditionalists, nor - as we have just seen - that, that comes entangled in violent extremes in left wing intellectualism. Now this was far from easy and the journey wasn’t always a happy one.
Newsreel footage of the Lennon’s outside court following the 1968 drug bust
John : Anybody who’s been in the drug scene, er, it’s not something you can go on and on doing, it’s like drink or anything, you’ve got to come to terms with it, like too much food or too much anything. You’ve got to get out of it, you’re left with yourself all the time whatever you do, meditation, drugs, anything. You’ve got to get down to your own god in your own temple in your head and it’s all down to yourself. So it’s like for peace or anything, it’s all down to this relationship, to work on this relationship with Yoko is very hard, we’ve got the gift of love, but love is like a precious plant, you can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on with itself like a pet, you’ve got to keep watering it and really look after it, and love you have to water and be careful of it and keep the flies off and - er - see that it’s alright and nurture it. And to get a relationship between two people is the start, and if we two can make it maybe we can make it with you, and maybe us 4 - you and yours - we can make it with the next 4, and it’s only that, there’s no sort of answer.
Morris : For many people, John Lennon’s serious statements are completely at odds with the zany eccentric way he chooses so often to present them to the public, he’s frequently, and quite unfairly I think, been written off as a publicity hungry clown. But you see, this eccentricity of his is more than a mere anti-establishment device, it also represents a plea for fantasy - if you like - in an unromantic age, a plea for the unofficial and the inconsequential in an age of officialment over organisation, a plea for unsophisticated fun in an age of sophisticated weapons. Above all - it’s a plea for optimism.
John : I’m full of optimism because of the contacts I’ve made personally throughout the world including yourself, whether seeing you on TV or whatever, knowing that there’s other people around who I can agree with. And I’m not insane and I’m not alone. That’s just on a personal level. And of course the Woodstock, Isle of Wight [Music festivals] all the mass meetings of the youth is completely positive for me and the fact that now we’re all getting to know a way of showing our flags. And when you show your flag you’re not alone.
It’s like there's no need for us to be a few Christian martyrs because there’s lots of us and don’t be afraid because they do look after you, whoever’s up there, if you get on with it. And I’m completely positive, and when I’m negative - I’ve got Yoko who is just as strong as me, and it helps, and this is only the beginning - this '60s bit was just a sniff, the '60s were just waking up in the morning and we haven’t even got to dinner time yet and I can’t wait, I just can’t wait I’m so glad to be around and it’s just going to be great and there’s going to be more and more of us, and whatever you’re thinking there Mrs Grundy of South Birmingham on toast, you don’t stand a chance, (A) You’re not going to be there when we’re running it and (B) you’re gonna like it when you get less frightened of it. And it’s gonna be wonderful and I believe it, and of course we all get depressed and down about it, but when I’m down or John and Yoko’s down, Desmond will be up or somebody else will be up, there’s always somebody carrying the flag and beating the drum, so ’they’, whoever they are, don’t stand a chance because they can’t beat love, because all those old bits from religion about love being all powerful is true, and that’s the bit they can’t do, they can’t handle it.
Morris : If John Lennon’s anti-hatred, anti-intolerance, optimism is typical of the younger generation then I too am optimistic on this last day of the '60s. And like him - I look forward eagerly to the '70s. But make no mistake I’m not suggesting that the rebellion of youth in the '60s that I have symbolised in the shape of the Beatles has arrived at any great solutions, it hasn’t. But at least it’s insisted on asking some vital questions both pertinent and sometimes impertinent and has rejected a great deal of yesterdays out worn dogma. And this is an important step that had to be taken. Let’s hope that in the '70s we shall start to find out some of the answers to the questions that youth has been so noisily, and so rightly, been asking in the '60s.
Now, at the beginning of the programme Alistair Cook mentioned a Gallup poll that was taken to find out how a thousand people would vote when asked to name their man, or woman, of the decade. So that you can see if your own personal choice was amongst the top favourites - here they are. Goodnight.
Caption.... President Kennedy Sir Winston Churchill Dr Barnard Mr Harold Wilson Prince Charles Prince Phillip H.M The Queen President Ho Chi Minh John Lennon
(C)1969 ATV

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