John Lennon's gypsy caravan rediscovered in Ascot house

Published: 23 May 2013 00:013 comments

A KEY piece of Beatles memorabilia has been discovered in the garage of an Ascot house. John Lennon's 1967 Sgt Pepper's Gypsy Caravan has been hidden from public view for more than 40 years.

John Lennon's gypsy caravan in 1967, after it had been newly painted with the Sgt Pepper's logo

John Lennon's gypsy caravan in 1967, after it had been newly painted with the Sgt Pepper's logo

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

But the Ascot News can exclusively reveal that the remains of the legendary caravan - which was bought by Lennon in 1967 for his then, four year-old son Julian's birthday - has been acquired by Alan Carr, a well-known Ascot

resident and charity fundraiser.

He is hoping the caravan can be restored to its former glory.

Mr Carr has been made the charitable guardian of the remains of the caravan, which is in a considerable state of disrepair, to sell it to raise money for the charities supported by the Ascot Lawyers' Foundation, of which he is fundraising director.

He said: "This caravan is a piece of rock 'n' roll history and represents the spirit of its time. Ideally, I would like to see it take pride of place in a cultural museum in Liverpool - the Beatles' birthplace - where experts can decide if it should be returned to its original Sgt Pepper's glory, but for charities' sake, I will have to balance any interest very carefully."

Originally called a Showman or Burton caravan, it was repainted at a garage in Chertsey to the specific designs of John Lennon and transported on July 24, 1967, to Lennon's then home in St. George's Hill, Weybridge, where Lennon lived with first wife Cynthia and son Julian.

After a sojourn in Ireland, where Lennon bought an island with second wife Yoko Ono, it returned to Ascot to stand in the garden of Tittenhurst Park, Sunninghill.

Tittenhurst Park was bought by John Lennon with Yoko Ono in May 1969 for £145,000. The couple moved to the USA in August 1971 and never returned to their Ascot home again.

The 26-room Georgian Mansion was sold to Ringo Starr on September 18, 1973.

The couple never returned to Tittenhurst near Ascot and that is where his gypsy caravan vanished from view.

It is understood that fellow former Beatle, Ringo Starr acquired the caravan as part of the late Beatle's estate and called in Cookham-based, vintage caravan restorer John Pockett to restore it.

It took almost a year and by September 1983 was returned, in its full glory, from Pockett's Cookham workshop, to be placed beside Ringo's swimming pool.

Ringo Starr sold the property in 1988 for £5 million to HRH Sheikh Bin Sultan Az Nahyan (President of UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi).

But it appears that Starr took it with him when he moved to a property in Longcross, Surrey.

It was left behind there when Starr subsequently moved.

But the roof and most of the sides are missing. The salty sea air from its trip to Ireland and the general ravages of time had taken its toll on the whole bodywork.

The caravan was given to Mr Carr after the person who had bought the Longcross property from Starr, and had rented it out, sold up last year.

Clive Mason, director of Virginia Water-based Carr's Lettings, which managed the property in Longcross, said: "When the house was sold last year, the landlord asked us to find a suitable home for the caravan and asked me if I knew of any charities that would be interested.

"I immediately thought of Alan Carr as he has excellent contacts with suitable charities and people who could arrange for the caravan to be rebuilt.

"The landlord readily agreed for Alan to take charge of the caravan and for him to use it as a vehicle for his charitable fundraising efforts."

John Pockett, who restored the caravan in 1967 said it was unsurprising that most of the caravan had rotted away.

He said: "The wood used in the [original] construction was quite flimsy and not of a very high standard. But it could be restored and I would love to see it back to its old self again."

Mr Carr added: "I simply could not believe what I was being told.

"Piers Carroll of Saints Transport kindly offered to collect and secure this precious piece of Beatles history with the aid of six of his men.

"My favourite all-time record is Imagine, which John coincidentally wrote at Tittenhurst, so any charitable gains will fittingly go into an Imagine Fund, under the umbrella of the Ascot Lawyers Foundation."

Click here to see a gallery of images of the caravan

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  • Lenmac
    2 posts
    May 24, 01:09
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    Since it was originally a gift by John Lennon to his son Julian, the right thing to do would be to return it to Julian, not sell it to him, if he wants it. While no doubt the Ascot Lawyers Foundation is worthy, it would be magnanimous of them to give it to Julian. Since Yoko Ono did not see fit to give it to him at the time of his father's assassination, nor any other memorabilia related to his father (surprise, surprise), forcing him instead to purchase from the general public any such items, it would be appropriate to give it to him now. I believe Ringo Starr would agree.

    Recommend?   Yes 40     No 3

  • EdSullivan
    1 post
    May 24, 16:32
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    So glad that Ascot has a charity for lawyers. We can't have them sleeping under bridges any more.

    Recommend?   Yes 12     No 4

  • Janew666
    1 post
    May 25, 19:42
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    yes, I agree that this caravan belongs to Julian & should be returned to him. especially since Yoko didn't see to it that he receive anything from his father's estate. Julian has had to purchase most of the things of his Dad's from auction houses at atrocious prices, so, yes this should be returned to him right away. it is part of his rightful legacy to him from his father. PLEASE see to it that this be given back to Julian, where it rightfully belongs.

    Recommend?   Yes 17     No 3