Photo shoot: Haddon Hall, Beckenham

David Bowie was photographed at his home, Haddon Hall in Beckenham, on 9 January 1970.

The photographer was Johnnie Clamp, for gay magazine Jeremy. A reporter from the publication had watched Bowie’s performance at London’s Speakeasy the night before.

The car breaks down. It’s raining and we arrive late to take the photos. The house is a stunning and monstrous folly of a place in deepest Beckenham. Light on. Door open. No sign of David. He’s just popped down to the shops for paraffin and meat for the night’s stew. David takes us on a conducted tour of his mansion – ramshackle yet strangely beautiful in its decay. Sweeping staircase. Huge stainglass windows. Moulded ceilings. Carved and tiled fireplaces. Liberty print blocks. Art Deco lamps. William Morris screens. There is an almost childlike excitement about the way he pounces on each new treasure, it’s infectious. ‘We have only been here a month and we’ve hardly started yet. There is so much to do and it’s the wrong time of year.’ We wonder he doesn’t get professional help. ‘No. It’s my first real place and I want to do it myself. I’m just getting someone to do the ceilings.’ Later outside in the failing light during the photo session squirrels leap through the branches and a fox careers across the lawn.

Haddon Hall was located at 42 Southend Road, Beckenham. It was demolished in the 1980s.

Last updated: 27 March 2023
Live: Speakeasy, London
Live: Three Tuns, Beckenham
Also on this day...

Want more? Visit the David Bowie history section.

Leave a Reply