George Harrison’s widow applies to build a yoga studio in mansion grounds
George Harrison’s widow has applied to build a yoga studio on the grounds of the villa he loves, which could be a lasting legacy for the ex-Beatle.
Olivia Harrison, 74, has unveiled plans for the contemporary glass structure to be built in the gardens at Friar Park – the magnificent Gothic Revival mansion Harrison bought in 1970.
Harrison – who died in 2001 at the age of 58 – was the band’s most spiritual member and famously practiced yoga and transcendental meditation.
During his lifetime, he recounted how he was at his most peaceful surrounded by nature on his sprawling Oxfordshire estate, where he developed the “decidedly un-rockstar pastime” of gardening.
George Harrison – who died in 2001 at the age of 58 – was the band’s most spiritual member and famously practiced yoga and transcendental meditation
The freestanding studio features three glass walls, including one with sliding doors, that sit on a suspended concrete platform with porcelain tiles
Olivia has submitted plans for the contemporary glass structure to be erected in the gardens of Friar Park – the magnificent Gothic Revival mansion Harrison bought in 1970
Insiders said Olivia “clearly had his legacy in mind” when the plans for the new building were presented to South Oxfordshire Borough Council.
She wants the studio and gym to be built on a part of the property “used primarily for leisure purposes,” on a lawned garden adjacent to the outdoor pool and gazebo.
It would run parallel to a mature hedge separating the tennis court from the recreational area.
The planning documents state that the approach to the character of the 10ft x 23ft structure is to “deliver a contemporary building surrounded by glazed walls to connect its use to the context of nature and design and elements.” that match the existing pavilion in its immediate context. ‘
The freestanding studio features three glass walls, including one with sliding doors, that sit on a suspended concrete platform with porcelain tiles.
Part of the platform would extend outward to allow for outdoor exercises.
According to the plans, the back wall with iroko wood paneling will have a device for hiding devices inside to limit clutter.
Insiders said Olivia Harrison, 74, “clearly had his legacy in mind” when plans for the new building were presented to South Oxfordshire Borough Council
According to the plans, the back wall with iroko wood paneling will have a device for hiding devices inside to limit clutter
The studio would run parallel to a mature hedge separating the tennis court from the leisure area
Part of the platform would extend outward to allow for outdoor exercises. In the picture: the website of the yoga studio
Shaun Tanner Architecture and Planning, who designed the new yoga studio, said: “The choice of materials and elements has been carefully considered to ensure a minimalist and contemporary building emerges on site that also relates to the existing pavilion opposite .
“The proposal aims to deliver a single storey annexe with an open floor plan, with a flexible layout to accommodate the proposed use of the gym and yoga room, with service equipment hidden within the walls and part of the platform exposed outside and creates a small interior patio in front where the occupant can also use for external yoga and exercise.’
The 120-room Victorian mansion, built in 1889, is Grade I listed, while the 62-acre property has been designated a ‘Designated Landscape of National Significance’ on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest by Historic England .
Close to Henley-on-Thames it is also part of a nature reserve and an area of ’Outstanding Natural Beauty’.
The Gardens Trust, the UK charity dedicated to heritage designed gardens and landscapes, has been consulted about the historic nature of the Park Gardens but declined to comment.
An image of the existing pavilion, near which the yoga studio will be built as part of a leisure area of the property
She wants the studio and gym to be built on a part of the property “used primarily for leisure,” in a lawned garden area adjacent to the outdoor pool and gazebo (pictured).
Harrison began embracing spirituality after experimenting with LSD and meeting Swami Vishnu-devananda, the founder of Sivananda Yoga, while filming Help! 1965 in the Bahamas.
He bought Friar Park as a quiet getaway from London and a place to set up a new recording studio.
When the band broke up, he began to further explore his spiritual journey — and his love of gardening.
He separated from his first wife Pattie Boyd before marrying American-born Olivia in 1978.
Olivia had also studied meditation with an Indian guru before meeting her husband.
A year after his death, in 2002, she told NBC that Harrison was most at home in Friar Park’s gardens.
She said: “You know, it was really the outdoors that he loved.
“And I think he felt closest to God in nature.
“Yes, he loved it here.
“You know, he had to leave London early. And so we got further and further away from London.
“And he found a place to get away from the crowd, and that was it.”
She also recently opened up about her love of the nature that surrounds her home, telling the Henley Literary Festival about her new book, Came The Lightening.
She said: “The book is set in the garden. My life takes place in the garden.
“The garden is a sign of life. I began by looking at the trees in the garden that have been my witnesses for the last 45 years.
“When we moved to Henley, George just wanted peace after a tumultuous decade.
“He lived there as a refuge to find some semblance of life.”
Musicians such as Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison frequented the home, which once had one of the finest recording studios in the country.
In an interview with David Hartman’s Good Morning America in 1981, George said, “I decided to be a gardener.
“I like the garden. In the garden you see all the seasons come and go, and everything you do can affect everything.
“But at the same time, the flowers don’t answer you. Do not make the effort. It’s very nice.’
The couple’s love of the home endured despite a frantic attack in December 1999, when intruder Michael Abram broke into the property and repeatedly stabbed the rock star.
A decision on the application is expected in early January.