Norman Bust

All the News That Fits Into a Size Seven and a Quarter Hat


Crackerbox Palace

Frair Park Paradise Road, Henley-on-Thames England


Friar Park is a home worthy of a Beatle. In your dreams, you couldn’t imagine a more beautiful estate. Friar Park was built in the 1870s by the eccentric Sir Francis Crisp. 

Frank Crisp, by Leslie Ward, 1891


It consists of forty acres of pure gothic whimsy. The orange stones held together by grey-white mortar blend in with the lush evergreen gardens. The lofty towers and spirals of the main house are surrounded by fields, hedges, lakes and caves. Even the guest cottages can be considered mansions in their own right.



In February of 1969, George Harrison acquired Friar Park from a bankrupt Catholic convent that had planned to destroy the building. Promptly, George found himself unemployed, as his band disintegrated. Lacking anything constructive to fill his hours, he became a gardener, spending hour after hour restoring the grounds to their original botanical splendor.



This Crackerbox Palace became the focus of George’s creative thoughts. He constructed a recording studio within the walls of the main house, calling it Friar Park-Studios- Henley-on-Thames or FPSHOT. Along with his records, a number of promotional films were conceived and produced on the grounds.

Two of the three guest houses on the forty acre estate. The Lodge and Gate House.


Harrison put the whole property up as collateral in order to fund Monty Python’s movie Life of Brian after their original backers, EMI, pulled out at the last minute. Harrison was a huge fan of Monty Python, and simply wanted to get to see the film , something that his friend Eric Idle has often described as “the most expensive cinema ticket in movie history”.

Discarding the material world: Beatle George’s garbage cans along side of Frair Park.



From The Beatles England by David Bacon and Norman Maslov


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MANHATTMAN is hosted by Norman Maslov, whose Agence Internationale, represents a small group of wonderful photographers. This blog showcases images from these artists along with scribes about music, films, food, gin martinis and hats. Pontifications from a native San Franciscan and his extended family and friends. So it goes.

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