Whilst the Museum is closed and our collections unable to be seen by visitors, we have created a weekly virtual museum with an Object of the Week feature from our collections.
Object of the Week : K is for Kinks and Kings
In the summer of 1968, Ray Davies, from 60s group The Kinks, moved with his wife Rasa to a large house in Red Road. At the time it was called the Kings House, with its connected and adjacent smaller property called Kings Cottage. But when it was built around the turn of the century it was called The Gables. Bought by the actor Martin Benson in the 1950s after his huge success in The King And I in which he played the character Kralahome, he renamed it Kings House. Ray bought it from Martin, and here he wrote some of his best songs.
Only a nod to The Gables exists in the naming of the nearby estate. Its location was close by the Sion Convent and the nuns often complained about the noise of music coming from it. You can see from this photograph of Sion Convent Pavilion, the building in the background would have been The Gables. We only have maps now to show the location of this large house. The building had been much modified since the 1950s.
Early map showing The Gables and its tennis court in Red Road Close up on map of The Gables and the Sion Convent Pavilion
Meanwhile, during his time in Borehamwood, locals would see Ray Davies visiting the Wellington or buying his evening paper from Coles Arcade. He played football against Elliotts for a celebrity team, but mostly wrote his songs. The band would rehearse them in the Cottage and it was a creative period for Ray. He wrote the title track of We Are The Village Green Preservation Society here – one line “God save Tudor houses, antique tables, and billiards” probably inspired by his house - and he wrote the album Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). It was released in 1969 to rave reviews, and gave the Kinks an entry back to the States. Ray perfectly summed up the feelings for a lost England ‘destroyed’ by the march of progress, and this would be especially poignant in Boreham Wood as it entered the 70s and a period of growth and change.
But Ray was missing his Muswell Hill roots and sold Kings House in 1969 to move back. It was knocked down, leaving the Cottage which still survives. It is reported that the wooden panels from the ballroom were liberated and went to the Cat & Fiddle in Radlett, though that is unconfirmed. Unfortunately we have no photos of the House or Ray in Boreham Wood, just some wonderful music inspired, possibly, by Red Road!