The Beatles A Dallas 'Tuxedo' guitar, two banjo magazines and a tree house board, all from John Lennon's childhood home, 'Mendips,
The guitar and magazines were discovered in the loft at Mendips in 1996, when some work was being done for the then owner, Ernest Burkey, who had moved into the house in the late 1960s. Following his death, it was put up for sale in 2001, purchased by Yoko Ono and donated to the National Trust, who opened it to the public in 2003.
The Dallas 'Tuxedo' guitar was the first British-made solid electric guitar and was produced in the late 1950s by the Dallas company (later to become Dallas-Arbiter), at the time that the teenage John Lennon was starting his musical career with the Quarrymen. It is well-documented that his mother, Julia, taught John banjo chords whilst he was learning to play a guitar and this may well provide a connection to the presence of the magazines in the loft. Exactly how or why the guitar found its way into Mendips is unknown. It has been suggested that John stole a guitar at one of the Carroll Levis auditions in Liverpool and Manchester in October/November 1959 as he had no guitar at the time and Paul McCartney has mentioned this in an interview. In May 2003 the guitar went on display at The Beatles Story in Liverpool and an article about it appeared in the July edition of 'Guitarist' magazine, with an appeal for information about the instrument. Further to this, in 2011, Ernest Burkey's nephew published a request in the Liverpool Echo and Daily Post for anyone who had any knowledge about the guitar to contact him. Letters were received from two readers who recognised the guitar. One stated that John had taken this guitar into Rushworths to buy a case for it and the other detailed the guitar being seen in the kitchen at Mendips by a girl who was visiting her relatives who lived next door. These letters are amongst the background details offered with the guitar.
A statement by Ernest Burkey confirms that the tree house board was taken down from the elm in the back garden of Mendips in 1979 and a colour photograph of the event is included, as is a photocopy of an article from the 'Beatles Book' fan club monthly, issue 25, August 1965, entitled 'Young John'. In this, Aunt Mimi states that John '...had this little house built in a tree, in our back garden. From the spring onwards it was impossible to see through the leaves, and he used to hide in there for hours. He called it his 'den', and used to sit there drawing and making up rhymes, just like those in his books...'
The items offered here remained on display at The Beatles Story until early 2012.