George Harrison's widow to build yoga studio in grounds of mansion

George Harrison’s widow wins permission to build yoga studio in the grounds of huge mansion she shared with her Beatles legend husband

  • George Harrison’s widow Olivia Harrison has won permission for a yoga studio
  • The new structure will be erected in the grounds of historic Friar Park

George Harrison’s widow has been granted permission to build a yoga studio in the grounds of the legendary Beatle’s huge mansion.

Olivia Harrison, 74, will now press ahead with plans to site the super-modern structure in the grounds of historic Friar Park. 

George, who died in 2001 aged 58, treated his garden like a temple, buying the Grade II-listed home in 1970 as a quiet escape from London and a place to set up a new recording studio.

Olivia wanted an outdoor gym and a space where she can practise yoga and applied to South Oxfordshire District Council late last year for the mainly glass outbuilding. The building is planned to mirror the pavilion across the garden, which runs to 62 acres.

Olivia Harrison with her late husband George Harrison – who died aged 58 in 2001

Olivia submitted successful plans for the contemporary glass structure to be built in the gardens at Friar Park – the magnificent neo-gothic mansion Harrison bought in 1970

The plans for the elegant structure were approved by South Oxfordshire District Council

Henley-on-Thames Town Council also recommended approval and there were no objections from neighbours.

Shaun Tanner Architecture and Planning, which designed the new yoga studio, said in planning documents: ‘The choice of materials and elements have been carefully selected to ensure a minimalist and contemporary building is delivered on site, which also relates to the existing pavilion opposite.

‘The proposal seeks to deliver an open plan single storey outbuilding, with a flexible layout to meet the proposed use of gymnasium and yoga room, with service equipment concealed inside the walls and a section of the platform being external and creating a small terrace in the front, where the occupant can use for external yoga and exercises as well.’

The building is set to be constructed on a suspended concrete platform finished with porcelain tiles complemented by full glazing walls, iroko wood cladding and a lead roof with painted detailed timber eaves to replicate the eaves detail of the facing pavilion.

Insiders said Olivia Harrison, 74,  ‘clearly had his legacy in mind’ with her plans for the new building

A picture of the existing pavilion, which the yoga studio will be built near as part of a leisure section of the estate

The detached studio features three glass walls, including one with sliding doors, set on a suspended concrete platform finished with porcelain tiles

 Under the plans the back wall, featuring iroko wood cladding, will have a facility for concealing equipment inside to limit clutter

The Beatles were known for their hippy take on life.

The devotion to yoga – an ancient Indian spiritual and religious Hindu practice – may be a memory of their hippy days.

Olivia shared a life of spirituality with her husband of 23 years – who found answers in drugs, religious texts and Transcendental Meditation.

Harrison even wrote one of his most famous songs – I am the Walrus – while on LSD.

During the filming of Help! in the Bahamas, the band met the founder of Sivananda Yoga, Swami Vishnudevananda, who gave each of them a signed copy of his book, The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga.

George also spoke frequently about how much he loved nature.

In an interview with David Hartman’s Good Morning America in 1981, George said: ‘I decided to become a gardener.

‘I like the garden. In the garden, you see all the seasons come and go, and whatever you do can affect it all.

‘But at the same time, the flowers don’t answer you back. Don’t give you no trouble. It’s very nice.’

Olivia, too, studied meditation with an Indian guru before meeting her husband.

A year after his death, in 2002, she told NBC that he felt most at home in the gardens of Friar Park.

She said: ‘You know, it was really nature that he loved.

‘And I think he felt closest to God in nature.

‘Yes, he loved it here.

‘You know early on, he had to get out of London. And so we kept moving further and further away from London.

‘And he found a place where he could get away from the crowds and this was it.’

Part of the platform will extend outside to allow outdoor exercise. Pictured: the site of the yoga studio

The studio will run parallel to a mature hedge dividing the tennis court from the leisure area 

She also spoke recently about her love of the nature surrounding her home, telling Henley Literary Festival about her new book, Came The Lightening.

She said: ‘The book is set in the garden. My life is set in the garden.

‘The garden is a marker of life. I started by looking at the trees in the garden who have been my witness over the last 45 years.

‘When we came to live in Henley George just wanted peace after he had a tumultuous decade.

‘He lived there as a refuge to find a semblance of life.’

Musicians including Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison visited the house, which had one of the best recording studios in the country at one point.

Victorian Gothic Friar Park was built in 1889 and originally owned by lawyer Sir Frank Crisp – the focus of a 1970 song by Harrison, Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll).

The 62 acre site with extensive gardens and water features sits just outside historic Henley-on-Thames, the location for the plush annual Henley Royal Regatta.

The council specified that building work must take place within the next three years.

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