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Tittenhurst Park: Wikis


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Tittenhurst Park was the home of John Lennon and Yoko Ono from the late summer of 1969 until August 1971, and then the home of Ringo Starr and family until the late 1980s. It is located on a 72-acre[1] estate in London Road, Sunninghill near Ascot, Berkshire SL5 0PN, England.

A century earlier, in 1869, the property was owned by Thomas Holloway[2], philanthropist and founder of two large institutions which he built nearby: Holloway Sanatorium in Virginia Water, Surrey, and Royal Holloway College, now known as Royal Holloway, University of London in Englefield Green.


John Lennon and Tittenhurst Park

the front cover of "Hey Jude" by The Beatles, taken at the house

Lennon purchased this Georgian manor house and land from the Blindell family after the sale of Kenwood in Surrey, his earlier home with first wife Cynthia Lennon, because of its resemblance to Calderstones Park in Liverpool, where he had spent time as a child. He and Ono spent twice the £145,000 purchase price on renovations, transforming the interior of the house to their liking, commissioning a set of hand-woven Oriental rugs, and installing a man-made lake which they could see from their bedroom window.

The last Beatles photo session took place at Tittenhurst Park on 22 August 1969, and the photos were used for the front and back covers of their Hey Jude album (a collection of single sides) early in 1970. Also during that year, and in the wake of the Beatles' breakup, Lennon built his own recording studio, dubbed Ascot Sound Studios, in the estate grounds, where he and Ono recorded their next several albums. The matching cover photos of their twin Plastic Ono Band albums were taken at Tittenhurst by the pair, using an Instamatic camera, and portions of the Imagine movie-length video – which included selections from the Fly album – were also filmed in the grounds.

During 1970 and 1971, Lennon and Ono began to visit the United States, first for Primal Therapy at Dr. Arthur Janov's Primal Institute in California, then for child custody hearings over Ono's daughter Kyoko Chan Cox, in Houston and New York City. Ono spent her late teens and twenties living in New York (including Scarsdale and Greenwich Village), and felt more at home there than in England – and so did Lennon, once he'd had a taste of Village life, as they rented a Bank Street apartment late that year. On 31 August 1971 the Lennons moved to New York permanently.

Ascot Sound Studios

Ascot Sound Studios was a tape-based analog recording studio, built by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1970, on the grounds of Tittenhurst Park.

Lennon built the studio, which featured eight recording tracks on one-inch open-reel tape and a sixteen-channel mixing console, so that he and wife/collaborator Ono could record without the inconvenience of having to book studio time at Abbey Road or another location. They could also avoid negative pressure from EMI and Apple Records staffers, and members of the British public, who disdained Ono's avant-garde stylings and tried to persuade Lennon to make more "sellable" music, as he had with the now-defunct Beatles. (Chance encounters with other ex-Beatles were likewise avoided.) Technical personnel and outside musicians were summoned as required, kept on standby, or stayed at Lennon and Ono's guest quarters (as they did for the Imagine and Fly sessions) if necessary, to make records that satisfied the two.

First to be recorded were the twin Plastic Ono Band albums (portions of which were also recorded at Abbey Road), released simultaneously in December 1970. (Lennon's rose to #6 in the Billboard charts, while Ono's - largely recorded in a single night of jamming with Lennon, Klaus Voormann on bass and Ringo Starr on drums - barely made the Top 200.) The following year brought Lennon's best-selling Imagine, with Phil Spector as co-producer. George Harrison joined Lennon and Voormann at Ascot to play on several songs, including "How Do You Sleep?", a song that criticised the odd ex-Beatle out, Paul McCartney. Ringo Starr visited the studio during the recording of the song and was reportedly upset, saying: "That's enough, John."[3]The album sessions were extensively filmed, and the footage appears in both the Imagine: John Lennon documentary and a separate documentary about the making of the album.

Recorded at the same time as Imagine was Yoko Ono's album Fly (whose title song was the soundtrack to their movie of the same name), and these appear to be the last recordings the couple completed at the studio.

Startling Studios

Deciding to stay long-term in the United States, Lennon sold Tittenhurst Park to a longtime friend, who could make use of the grounds and the recording studio – his former bandmate Ringo Starr, who purchased the property on September 18, 1973.

Renaming the studio "Startling Studios", Starr made the facility available for use by other recording artists.[1] Portions of T. Rex's film Born to Boogie were shot there, and the house also saw a social visit from cult folk musician Nick Drake.

Judas Priest planned to record their British Steel album at Startling Studios, but found the house itself more suitable, and moved recording equipment there. Judas Priest's live album Unleashed in the East was also mixed and completed there.

In 1988, the property was sold for £5 million to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Abu Dhabi[2]. Since then further renovations to the manor has been carried out, and the interior no longer resembles the house lived in by Lennon and Starr. The property's value was estimated in 2007 to be £30 million.[1]

In 2004, Peter Dennison, owner of French furniture firm Moth, offered for sale one of the original toilet seats from Tittenhurst Park. It was displayed in the window of the Brighton Musical Exchange shop in Trafalgar Street, Brighton. Mr. Dennison had bought the seat when his architectural salvage firm was offered furniture by the contractors doing the renovations at Tittenhurst Park. The asking price was £285[4].


  1. ^ a b "Images of the house". Retrieved 2008-09-25. 
  2. ^ a b Williams, Richard (1983). "Royal Holloway College, A Pictorial History" (first published October 1983). Surrey: Royal Holloway, University of London. pp. 6 - includes a picture of the house ca.1930. ISBN 0-900145-83-8. 
  3. ^ Blaney, John (2005). John Lennon: Listen To This Book. Guildford, Great Britain: Biddles Ltd.. pp. 89. ISBN 0-9544528-1-X. 
  4. ^ "Argus - local newspaper for Brighton & Hove, archive for 25 March 2004". Retrieved 2008-09-25. 

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