Monday, February 10, 2014

25 Days Of Harrison Day 9- Friar Park

"It is a dream on a hill and it came, not by chance, to the right man at the right time"- Derrek Taylor on George Harrison's Friar Park purchase, I Me Mine
In 1970 George Harrison left his Kinfauns home and moved into an old Victorian, Gothic-style Roman Catholic school that was about to be demolished for his new home. Friar Park is most recognizable for the 120 rooms and architecture, also for it's elaborate,beautiful gardens. This would be home of George's up till his death in 2001.

The mansion was built by Sir Frank Crisp, a lawyer and microscopist who was born in London- 1843. Frank Crisp had lost his mother at a young age and was brought up by his grandfather, John Filby Childs. Crisp studied at the University of London earning degrees of BA (1864) and LLB (1885). He studied law and in 1867 married Catherine Howes. Two years after his marriage he qualified as a solicitor and took place in many important contracts including several foreign railroad companies, Imperial Japanese Navy and more. 1875 Friar Park had became the Crisp's home where Crisp himself would create these gorgeous gardens and have windows and walls filled with quotes like,
"Scan not a friend with a microscope glass,
You know his faults now let his forbid pass,
Life is one loving enigma true my friend,
read on, read on, The Answer's at the end."
Also statues, like the "Two Holy friars" a statue of a monk holding a frying pan with two holes in it. In 1913, he received his baronetcy for his services to the Liberal Party.

The home belonged to Sir Frank Crisp till his death on 29 April, 1919 where the home was given to nuns (most likely from the Salesians of Don Bosco order) who started a Roman Catholic School, The Sacred Heart School. It was in the late 60s that George had read about this building about to be demolished and bought it making it The Harrison's (married to Pattie Boyd at this time) second home and would be where many of George's songs would be written, in fact in 1972, George would install a 16-track-tape-based recording studio in one of the rooms and would later (in 1974) would become the recording headquarters for Dark Horse Records, a company owned by George Harrison.

"The house was going to be knocked down because the Catholics would not pay for the upkeep. What a thing, to knock down a house like this."-George Harrison, I Me Mine
A major factor in buying this house is described in George's autobiography, I Me Mine  where he says he remembers going to Claremont Park and on acid trips just sitting under the trees. On this one trip he says it was ten minutes before closing when a watchman type guy said "get out, get away", during this trip George had been very emotionally upset and was very hurt by this comment saying "All I want to do is look at the trees...."
"The result of that was 'OK, I'll buy my own park."- George Harrison, I Me Mine
He also liked the fact that Sir Frank Crisp had signs that read "Don't Keep Off The Grass" 
"Sir Frank helped my awareness; whatever it was I felt became stronger, or found more expensive by moving into that house, because everything stepped up or was heightened."-George Harrison, I Me Mine
 Friar park spread 34-acre with a wide spread of gardens, rivers, and caves all made by Frank Crisp. George Harrison and his second wife Olivia would tend the gardens up till his death. Even dedicating his autobiography to "Gardeners Everywhere". His son, Dhani would later say in Martin Scorsese's documentary,
"He'd garden at night-time until midnight. He'd be out there squinting because he could see, at midnight, the moonlight and shadows, and that was his way of not seeing the weeds or imperfections that would plague him during the day ..."
Not only were their beautiful gardens at Friar Park, but there were also caves and rivers where George had a boat that he would row around the gardens.

Fans were first shown George's new home on his All Things Must Pass album cover, where he is featured sitting in yard with lawn gnomes. In the same album, Harrison recorded "Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp" about the first owner and history of the home. George also recorded a song called "Ding Dong, Ding Dong" where the video is shown of George at his home and based of of more quotes of Crisps. "The Answer's at The End" is based around Crisp's quote (mentioned above).  George filmed the video for his song "Crackerbox Palace" at his home, also for his song "True Love".  The following video is George Harrison's "Crackerbox Palace" and "True Love"


Up until 1980, after John Lennon's death, the home wasn't too protected, very opened. When John Lennon was murdered security cameras and razor- wire fences were installed and the gates were locked. An psychotic man broke through the security systems in the '90s and stabbed George Harrison (read more about the stabbings here).


"Let it roll down through the caves
Ye long walks of coole and shades
Through ye woode, here may ye rest awhile
Handkerchiefs to match your tie
Let it roll" -
"Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp" by George Harrison


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