Jane Bown in Sevenoaks

The Beatles in Knole Park, Sevenoaks, Kent, filming “Strawberry Fields Forever”. © The Jane Bown Estate

By chance, esteemed photographer Jane Bown (1925-2014) came across the Beatles in Knole Park, Sevenoaks, Kent, as she was walking her dog together with her young nephew. The Beatles were filming the music video for “Strawberry Fields Forever” with German born director Peter Goldmann.

“The Beatles gathered around a piano in the middle of the park” … nobody knew they were there. John was running around with his new toy, a cine camera, filming everything, including me. I had only two rolls of [colour] film with me, but took what I could”.

The photographs were taken on a 35mm Pentax camera.

Under the tree © The Jane Bown Estate

“The sole audience was a row of five little girls, Vita Sackville West’s granddaughters, peeping over the wall of her old home in the park”.
“By this time the band had started dressing pretty oddly, especially John, decked out in flapping, colourful pyjama trouser things with a black coat and those glasses. He was bursting with energy, he was so inquiring, that’s what I remember most.”

A schoolboy also met the Beatles during this filming, you can read his story here.

The Beatles. Knole Park – filming the promotional film for ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. John filmed Bown with his cine camera. © The Jane Bown Estate

Jane was familiar with the group, having first shot the Beatles backstage at a concert in East Ham in 1963. There is no record of the 1967 photos appearing in the Observer colour magazine but copies were kept on file. Black and white copies were made in case they were needed in the future by the newspaper. She must have sold it, though, because here is the original German single cover for “Lady Madonna”:

Lady Madonna, Germany, 1968

Earlier, she also sold it to the magazine Fabulous 208, who featured it on their front page in early May, 1967:

It was also used as the back side photo for several singles in the U.K. “green series” in 1976:

Appropriately, the “Strawberry Fields Forever”/”Penny Lane” single in the green series (1976) also used Bown’s photo. As is shown here, it was also used for “Lady Madonna”.

Jane Bown worked for the Observer for 65 years, taking unforgettable images of hundreds of subjects. The above photographs form part of the colour negatives and transparencies portrait series of Jane Bown’s extensive archive which is held at the Guardian News & Media Archive. A catalogue of Jane Bown’s work is available to search online and researchers interested in making an appointment to consult the collection should email the archive team.

Source: The Guardian

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1 Response

  1. absinthe says:

    Obscure trivia: H.G. Wells wrote his first book, “The Time Machine,” in 1894 during an extended holiday in Sevenoaks. Of course, Wells would be included on the Sgt. Pepper cover two months after the SFF film shoot in Sevenoaks.

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