Semi-detached house, 1933, the childhood home of John Lennon from 1946-63 with his aunt and uncle, Mimi and George Smith. Roughcast render exterior, hipped roof with red tile coverings, 2-storeys
Reasons for Designation
Mendips, 251 Menlove Avenue, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historical association: the childhood home of the internationally renowned British musician, John Lennon, from ages of 5 to 22
* Architectural interest: a classic example of a typical 1930s, middle-class, semi-detached house made special for surviving much as it did from the long period of Lennon’s residence.
* Interior fittings: Lennon's association with the house is visible in features such as the book shelves erected in the lounge by his aunt to encourage his studying and dissuade his musical aspirations, and the porch enclosed to muffle the sound of the musicians rehearsing
* Cultural interest: the house was used as a practice venue by The Beatles in their early years as a group; John Lennon and Paul McCartney penned numerous songs here, including The Beatles' first British number one hit, 'Please Please Me'.
Mendips, 251 Menlove Avenue was built in 1933 by a firm of builders known as Jones who built many of the houses in the local area, which were all similarly styled and were given names in order to attract middle-class buyers. From 1946-1963, Mendips was the home of the musician and songwriter, John Lennon (1940-1980) who was a member of the 1960s pop phenomenon, The Beatles, from 1960-1970 and later also a social activist. The house was owned by Lennon's aunt and uncle, Mimi and George Smith, with whom he lived from the ages of 5 until 22 due to irregular contact with, and estrangement from both his mother, Julia Lennon (Mimi Smith's sister) and father, Alfred Lennon. Julia Lennon was the person who bought John his first guitar but she was killed in a road accident when Lennon was 17 years old. Mimi and George Smith had moved into Mendips after its owners vacated the house during WWII and never returned; enabling the Smiths to take possession.
During Mimi Smith's ownership of the house she rented one of the bedrooms out to a series of lodgers; always male students (she believed them to be tidier than female students) and usually studying veterinary science, as she had pets. The house's dining room was used as a study room by the students and was not allowed to be used by John Lennon. In 1962 the last of the students moved out and Lennon married Cynthia Powell; the two sleeping in the dining room of Mendips. Their son, Julian Lennon was born the following year, and Mimi Smith used her former bedroom as a lounge and slept in the rear bedroom (formerly rented out to the lodgers). In 1965 Mimi Smith sold the house and took the furnishings with her, giving away those she didn't want.
On 8 December 2000, to mark the 20th anniversary of John Lennon's death, an English Heritage blue plaque was erected (the first outside London). In 2002, the house was acquired by Yoko Ono Lennon (John Lennon's second wife) and given to The National Trust, which carried out a programme of refurbishment. The house is furnished in late 1950s style to recreate the era in which John Lennon lived at the house, and it is open to the public for pre-booked tours run by The National Trust.
PLAN: Typical inter-war layout of a wide hallway with front and rear reception room and rear kitchen to the ground floor, and a morning room to the rear left. Mendips has three bedrooms and a separate toilet and bathroom to the first floor.
EXTERIOR: The house has leaded casement windows incorporating geometric-floral, stained glass designs to the front and side elevations and plain glazing to the rear. A central ridge stack is shared with the neighbouring house to the right. The front (south-west) elevation is of two bays with an enclosed, flat-roofed and partly glazed porch to the ground floor left. The porch was enclosed in 1953 by Lennon's aunt, Mimi Smith and was where The Beatles used to practise their music to avoid disturbing Mimi in the house. A replica 4-panel front door with a glazed upper light contains a leaded and stained glass design in the same style as the rest of house, with a slender overlight above. The original door is now in Tokyo. To the first floor above the porch is a canted 6-light oriel window, and to the right is a two storey canted bay with 10-light windows. An English Heritage blue plaque is set between the floor levels and records John Lennon's residence at Mendips. The north-west side elevation has a canted, 6-light, oriel window to the first floor centre lighting the first floor landing, and 4-light and 2-light windows to the first floor left. A large bay window to the ground floor left has plain glazing; the window was extended to the left beyond the house's rear wall in 1953 to provide additional space in the kitchen. A partly-glazed rear door exists to the north-east return. The rear (north-east) elevation has an original single-storey lean-to attached in front with a tiled roof and French doors belonging to the dining room (the doors were reinstated by the National Trust in c.2002/3, replacing later aluminium sliding doors). An 8-light window exists to the first floor left.
INTERIOR: The interior has been furnished in late 1950s style by The National Trust. Original floorboard floors survive (some hidden under later coverings), along with 4-panel doors incorporating large square upper panels, and some original Bakelite light switches. The porch has a black and white tiled floor. The entrance/stair hall is in a simplified mock-Tudor style with applied timber strips simulating panelling and a plate shelf above. The main stair has grouped balusters of two different widths, a closed string, a slightly expanded lower step, and an under-stair cupboard/cloakroom. The lounge (reserved by the Smiths for 'best') lies to the front of the ground floor and has a picture rail and a glazed tile fireplace that used to be in the rear dining room. The fireplace is flanked by low shelves installed by Mimi and George Smith to encourage John Lennon's reading (Mimi Smith did not approve of Lennon's interest in music). The dining room is located to the rear right of the ground floor and contains a glazed tile fireplace brought in by The National Trust from elsewhere. The morning room located to the rear left of the ground floor provides access into the rear kitchen and has an original servants' call box, dado and picture rails, and a timber fire surround with a tiled insert installed by the National Trust. The kitchen contains units and a geometric-patterned black and white tiled floor both installed by the National Trust; the latter copies the pattern of the original floor. To the first floor are three bedrooms, a bathroom and a toilet. The main bedroom to the front right of the house was that of Mimi and George Smith and contains a tiled fire surround with electric fire, and an original light fitting (not including the shade) located in the bay window, which prevented people outside from observing silhouettes. A smaller bedroom to the front left of the first floor was John Lennon's room. The bedroom to the right rear, used by Mimi Smith's lodgers, contains a stepped, glazed tile fireplace. The toilet and bathroom contain original, white glazed-tile dados with a black border (a narrow, black geometric-patterned band is also included within the bathroom tiling), geometric patterned linoleum floors, and a medicine cabinet and airing cupboard. The sanitaryware was installed by The National Trust.