Wednesday 23 December 2015


Kenneth Partridge, who has died aged 89, was the interior design mastermind behind virtually every society party and pop star home of the 1960s, most notably for Ringo Starr and John Lennon.
When Ringo and his first wife, Maureen, bought a flat in Montagu Square in London, Partridge decorated it with purple watered-silk wallpaper, silk curtains and lead-streaked mirrors. The Starrs did not live there for long, however, soon renting it out to a succession of tenants, including Jimi Hendrix who stayed there from December 1966 to the middle of 1967, when Starr evicted him for throwing cans of paint over the walls and curtains while on an acid trip.
Partridge also worked on John Lennon’s Kenwood, a mock-Tudor country house on the St George’s Hill estate in Weybridge which he had bought in 1964 for £20,000. The singer – who had spent £40,000 (the equivalent of £724,000 in 2015) on renovations to house and grounds – had been impressed by Partridge’s design work on Beatles manager Brian Epstein’s penthouse flat in Knightsbridge and his work for a party thrown by Epstein before their first tour of the United States.
He therefore gave Partridge a free hand. But as Lennon’s first wife, Cynthia, recalled, “We liked some of the lavish designs, but they weren’t what we’d have chosen... The results in one room almost gave John apoplexy: when he came home to find the Sunroom, a bright room with lots of windows, swathed in dark green material, like a bizarre wedding marquee, he was furious. He tore it down then and there.”
Nevertheless, Lennon rewarded each member of Partridge’s team with one of his ties at the end of the job, while Partridge himself was given a pair of Lennon’s Cuban-heeled boots. 
John Lennon's house in Weybridge: Partridge filled it with lavish designs  

Kenneth Alexander Partridge was born on August 24 1926 and brought up in Brockley, south London. His father was an engineer and works manager at Electro Dynamic, St Mary Cray in Kent, where the family moved in 1935.The family lived modestly; Kenneth remembered the cat’s meat man pushing his product through letter-boxes on the end of a steel spike. 

Kenneth Partridge: his favourite commisisons were for parties
Partridge’s work for the Beatles included the interiors of the short-lived Apple boutique in Baker Street, while other clients included the shoe manufacturer Edward Rayne, the theatre and film designer Oliver Messel, the photographer Norman Parkinson (for whose house in the West Indies he designed a multi-coloured glass wall using the bases of bottles), and Laurence Olivier. 

Many of his clients became part of a wide and diverse circle of friends, drawn mainly from the worlds of fashion, design, theatre and film, and he and his partner of 65 years, Derek Granger, a journalist and film producer, were popular house guests. Abroad, they stayed with Claudette Colbert. In Britain they stayed with Laurence Olivier in Sussex.
Away from his design work, Partridge worked for many years as a prison visitor, only giving up as ill health set in.
He is survived by Derek Granger and a sister.

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