Lennon Connection & Memorial
From the age of nine to the age of sixteen, the most famous Beatle, the late John Lennon, shared his boyhood holidays with cousins at Sangomore in Durness. A cousin Stan Parkes who spent ten years in Durness in the 1980’s retold tales. John used to talk frequently about his holidays in Durness and fellow Beatle Paul McCartney is reputed to have got the idea about the farmhouse on Mull listening. When the Durness Estate came on the market in the 1970’s the advertisement was sent to John in New York but by the time it arrived the estate had been sold.
Durness was an area that greatly inspired Lennon returning with his son Julian, wife Yoko Ono, and her daughter Kyoko in 1969
Until recently there were people living in Durness, who remember playing with the young John Lennon, when he visited on holiday. The House on the croft where John Lennon spent his boyhood holidays has now been demolished and a new building is on the site.
Stan’s stepfather’s family owned a croft in Durness where the family would spend the summer. John would travel by bus and spend three weeks at the croft. John loved his holiday here and played with the local kids.
In August 2002 the Durness Gardeners landscaped the area around the village hall. This was carried out with the Television program Beechgrove Garden and broadcast on the 22 August 2002. Part of the garden was dedicated as memorial to John Lennon, the only permanent memorial to John Lennon in Scotland is in the form of a memorial garden and Stan was in Durness for the occasion.
The event was given much media coverage and there were articles on the world wide web. The memorial is a set of three standing stones, created by local craftsman Neil Fuller, which feature lyrics from the song In My Life (There are places I remember). Attending was Stan Parkes, Lennon’s cousin who visited Durness with John on numerous occasions. Stan Parkes, who now lives in Largs was featured in the programme: John was nine when he started coming up with Stan to the croft in Durness. “This memorial from the people of Durness, and of course Beechgrove Garden, is great. John would be thrilled with this tribute and I know it would have meant more to him than any fancy statue in a hotel or whatever in Liverpool. He really loved Durness and he would love this tribute.”
In 2007 a very successful festival was held in Durness the John Lennon Northern Lights festival. Some of Britain’s greatest artists travelled to the highland village to pay homage to John Lennon in what was one of the most extraordinary festivals ever to be staged in the country. The John Lennon Northern Lights three-day festival was endorsed by – and attended by several members of the ex-Beatle’s family – including his sister Julia Baird. “John really loved Durness and would be very pleased that his influence was being celebrated with this festival,” said Ms Baird. “I am delighted to be involved in what is a high quality event which has taste and respect at its core. We are all looking forward very much to coming again to a place that meant so much to my brother.”
Lennon also asked relatives shortly before his death in 1980 to try and buy Durness Estate! The village is also said to be part of the inspiration for the seminal song In My Life on the Rubber Soul Album.“John would be both delighted and surprised that he had inspired such a great festival in a part of the world he loved,” said Mr Parkes. “John was more than a musician – he loved painting, drawing and writing in Durness and that is also well reflected in the festival’s arts. Few places meant more to John than Durness. It was often when he was at his happiest.”