Great Homes You Wish You’d Visited Part One: 1 Courtfield Road, South Kensington


This large studio apartment located just off the Gloucester Road in SW7, was the home of Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones and his girlfriend, actress / model Anita Pallenberg who took up residence in September 1966. With its rooms decorated by sixties interior designer de jour Christopher Gibbs – who would later do similar work for Mick Jagger’s townhouse and the set of the movie Performance – 1 Courtfield Road exuded a distinctly middle eastern vibe. Walls were hung with Moroccan tapestries, cushions lay all over the floors and a large water pipe dominated the centre of the living room.


Brian Jamming Amongst The TapestriesPhoto stolen from web.

Above the living area was a loft / minstrel gallery. Accessible via a rope ladder which led to a trap door inside, the gallery was constructed from carved wood and it was filled with instruments belonging to its new occupant.

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Brian Holding Court In CourtfieldPhotos stolen from web.

According to a 1972 biography on Mick Jagger written by Tony Scaduto, it was here that Brian Jones first took LSD shortly after he and Anita Pallenberg had begun living together and a “…weird court like scene…” developed around them at this apartment. Visiting American artists such as Bob Dylan and The Byrds would come by, as would members of the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, as well as young local dignitaries such as Guinness heir Tara Browne (immortalised as the man who ‘blew his mind out in a car’ in A Day In The Life) and baroness in waiting Alice Ormsby Gore.

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Mick and Keith Kicking It At Courtfield Circa Early 1967Photos stolen from web.

Marianne Faithful who was still living with her husband at the time, and who had become friendly with Anita, visited them often and described the atmosphere:

“They’re like a king and queen with a whole court, all those upper class people who are going to be lords and dukes someday, and they’re acting like Brian’s groupies. They should know better.”


Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, Who’s The Fairest Of Them All?Photo stolen from web.

Marianne was there one day when Brian’s former partner Linda Lawrence came by with their baby and some members or her family in order to shame Brian into paying child support. Brian’s heartless response was to stand on the balcony with Anita and his friends and laugh at her until she went away in despair. Following his arrest for drug possession in May 1967, Brian utilised the balcony a second time to give an ill conceived speech to gathered reporters about police harassment while simultaneously looking completely wrecked from drugs.

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Brian Giving Balcony Press Conference June 1967Photos stolen from web.

Tony Sanchez, who was essentially Keith Richard’s heroin dealer during the late 1960s and early 1970s, noted that Brian and Anita would be merciless to those that incurred their displeasure. “Anyone who displeased them would be banished from the flat and shunned immediately by any friends who wished to avoid offence to their highnesses”.


Brian and Anita At Courtfield RoadPhoto stolen from web.

When Keith Richards broke up with his girlfriend Linda Keith (due to her dallying with Jimi Hendrix), he started spending more and more time hanging out with Brian and Anita at Courtfield Road. Together they dropped a lot of acid and made demos. One of which evolved into the 1967 song Ruby Tuesday. At the same time Richards began to absorb more and more of Jones’ sartorial tastes until by the beginning of 1967, he too looked like a complete hippie dandy.

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Keith Richards Before & After Courtfield RoadPhotos stolen from web.

As Richards’ states in his semi-ghost written autobiography, “I just hung out as a guest and got a ring side seat on the world that Anita attracted around her. I used to walk back through Hyde Park to St. John’s Wood at six in the morning, at first, to pick up a clean shirt, and then I just stopped going home… It was all building up in Courtfield Gardens. Brian would crash out some times, and Anita and I would look at each other… I would stay around there three or four days and one a week I’d walk to St. Johns Wood. Better give some space here; it’s too transparent what my feelings are. But there were many other people around; it was a continuous party.


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An Artistic Interpretation of a Romantic BattlePhotos stolen from web.

After Keith later stole Anita from him during an angst filled trip to Morocco, Jones installed new girl friend Suki Potier at Courtfield Road and allowed both his home and life to go downhill. Terry Rawlings book Who Killed Christopher Robin describes the scene as, “Plates of half eaten takeaway meals were stacked precariously on the tables and in the sink. Wardrobe doors were smashed and splintered mirrors gaped open, hanging off their hinges as clothes, magazines and books lay strewn across the floors. There was a huge Nazi flag draped fully over an arm chair while more than 100 albums lay in a pathetic pile, sleeveless and stacked in a corner”.

Christopher Gibbs who had originally furnished the apartment stated that at this point “He [Brian] was living in complete chaos”. The flat was littered with ruined clothes and “… thousands and thousands of pounds worth of smashed instruments”.


Brian Jones Serene Amongst The ChaosPhoto stolen from web.

After repeated police harassment and a series of prank phone calls that requested ambulances and others to his address, Jones finally called it a day at Courtfield Road. He moved temporarily to the Royal Gardens Hotel in Kensington and finally to Cotchford Farm in Essex where he died an early death in shady circumstances.

Written and posted by Horatio Cornblower. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

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