Chez Dining Room: John Lennon

Thursday October 13, 2016

Around the table in the kitchen...Gimme Some Truth, The Making Of Imagine, 1971 L-R: Klaus, George, John & Yoko during a session break.

After finding Cher’s dining room, I was off and running to look for a photo of John and Yoko’s Dakota apartment dining room which I once read a description of. It contained an authentic Egyptian sarcophagus, reflecting Yoko’s interest in mysticism and the occult. I failed to find it but instead found John’s original dining room table while he lived in England.

Usually when we speak of dining rooms, it is with the image of a styled, interior design-heavy room suitable for a glossy magazine, a sort of dream dining room with lots of gee-gaw knicknacks, paintings, china cabinet, perfect chairs slid under the table, and candles that never get used. In comparison, here is the home of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the Georgian-style Tittenhurst Park, in England, from 1969 to 1971, which is a plain ol’ dining room for some casual well to do folks.

The paneled dining room is incredibly stark, painted a clean stark white, but not inhospitable at all. The opposite end of the room has French double doors leading out onto the rolling lawn area and bringing in the sunlight. It is possible there was some painting going on since Tittenhurst was under renovation the entire two years John and Yoko lived there, so the room was in transition and there was no other furniture or decoration. But they painted all the rooms white.

Tittenhurst--same day as the piano photo

In the center of the room is the long rectangular dining table, an English countryside harvest table, described as a “worried table”: a stressed, very old-fashioned farm table. John brought it from Kenwood, the mock-Tudor mansion in Weybridge, Surrey, his home with his first wife, Cynthia, and baby son Julian. It is kinda unusual for a guy to take a table except word is that Cynthia never liked the table. She got the house in the divorce settlement and John ended up with the table.

It certainly is not a dramatic table, but one that still suggests formality and good manners. It is really a very rustic natural plank table, and the squared tapered legs and apron was painted stressed white. It looks very comfy with the sturdy vicar-style ornately-carved dark wooden chairs that are so very English and make a contrast with the light wood of the table. The head chair has curved arms. The table looks like a turn of the century antique oak reformatory table, extremely practical in both style and function, like something set out in the yard in Far From The Maddening Crowd for a summer eve supper with the farm hands or neighbors. The table top looks slightly uneven and not finished, but also distressed. This is a nice, solid table you could dance on top of and not have it tip over.

The worried table becomes a prop in a famous historic pose. No introduction is necessary to recognize the faces in these photographs. Here is their last group photo session, in the Tittenhurst dining room, of the Beatles all together. (I notice there are no refreshments and the mood looks somber.)

In the final photo below, the table has been moved to the kitchen and is being used as a food prep table in a comfy English kitchen. This is really a lovely photo with Yoko looking very domestic surrounded by a variety of fresh foods preparing a meal using earthenware mixing bowls and John looking on unabashedly with pride, perched on one of the straightback vicar chairs. I read once John mentioned how much he liked Yoko’s cooking, and his favorite dish was her whole steamed fish.

The table was auctioned off after the Lennons left England to move to NYC and Tittenhurst was sold to Ringo.

August 22, 1969, and these photos were used for the front and back covers of their Hey Jude album

food, art, love

Recipe: Steamed Whole Fish, Asian Style

Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2013

Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.

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