I was Lord Kitchener

Why did the Beatles make so many references within their work to include famous doubles and doppelgangers? Next in the “Doubles and Doppelgangers” series we will be going through a little known “clue” pertaining to Lord Kitchener.


“I was Lord Kitchener’s Valet” was a fashion shop in London. Situated originally at its’ inception in 1964 as a stall on Portobello Market.  This small shop specialized in replicas of old Victorian-era military uniforms and accessories. It was immensely popular, and in 1964 the stall upgraded and moved indoors on 293 Portobello Road.


Many English celebrities have been seen wearing the shop’s fashions. Including Jimi Hendrix and Mick Jagger.  The shop’s manager Robert Orbach remembers in 1966 when a breakthrough occurred:

 “I’m sitting there one morning and in walked John Lennon, Mick Jagger and Cynthia Lennon. And I didn’t know whether I was hallucinating… but it was real. And Mick Jagger bought a red Grenadier guardsman drummer’s jacket, probably for about £4-5. They all came from Moss Bros and British Army Surplus. In 1966 it was only fifty or so years from Victorian times, when we had an empire. We used to buy fur coats by the bale… we had to throw quite a lot away.

So Mick Jagger bought this tunic and wore it on Ready! Steady! Go! when the Stones closed the show by performing ‘Paint it Black’. The next morning there was a line of about 100 people wanting to buy this tunic… and we sold everything in the shop by lunchtime.” (www.vam.co.uk).

Hendrix sporting a “I was Lord Kitchener Valet” military tunic 1967.
The popularity of the shop flew sky-high and they subsequently opened more shops in 1967 in Fouberts Place (just off Carnaby Street) and Piccadilly Circus. And soon after, the red tunic from I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet had become one of the most evocative mens’ outfits of the 1960’s London.
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Beatles shooting “Penny Lane” music video 1966
Sgt. Pepper costumes
In 1966 this short film was made.  Starring Jenny Boyd (Pattie Boyd’s sister whom was married to Beatle George Harrison) titled “Reflections on Love”  the opening sequence of the film Jennie Boyd is shopping at Lord Kitchenerr’s Valet.

The connections with the Beatles and I was Lord Kitchener’s valet did not end there. Perhaps this shop was the inspiration for the Beatles ill-fated tailor shop “Apple Tailoring” – which was actually “Dandie Fashions” prior to Apple taking over the shop location. Owned in part by Tara Browne. Tara Browne died in a car crash while on his way to discuss business matters at Dandie Fashions.
Dandie Fashions – 1968

From Wikipedia:

Dandie Fashions or sometimes Dandy Fashions was a London fashion boutique founded in 1966, following a chance encounter at the Speakeasy Club between Freddie Hornik and Alan Holston, who then got together with Australian John Crittle, the Guinness heir Tara Browne and Neil Winterbotham, and launched the new business.

Dandie Fashions opened its shop at 161 King’s Road, Chelsea in October 1966. John Crittle had previously worked for Michael Rainey in his boutique Hung On You. Crittle and Tara Browne wanted a retail outlet for their new tailoring company Foster and Tara. In December 1966, Browne died in a car crash, while he was on his way to discuss shop front designs with the graphic artist David Vaughan. Crittle bought his share of the business.

Five months after opening their Apple Boutique in Baker Street (which ran from 7 December 1967 to 30 July 1968), the Beatles invested in Dandie, renaming it Apple Tailoring (Civil & Theatric). They were attracted to King’s Road by the presence of the clothing boutiques Dandie, along with Granny Takes a Trip and Hung On You.  Apple Tailoring opened at the same 161 King’s Road premises as Dandie, on 23 May 1968. Neil Aspinall and Apple’s accountant Stephen Maltz became directors. John Lennon and George Harrison attended the launch party. However, it never made a profit and closed some months later”

In the Beatles film Magical Mystery Tour- there is a scene where an AD for I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet was prominently displayed in front of Paul. And of course- we can see Paul in a military-style jacket. Whether this jacket was from the aforementioned shop is not known- although unlikely.
So who “was” Lord Kitchener?  Well- that is where it gets interesting.

In 1914, at the start of the First Word War Lord Kitchener became Secretary of State for war, a Cabinet Minister. One of the few to foresee a long war, lasting for at least three years, he organized the largest volunteer army that both Britain and the world had seen, and oversaw a significant expansion of materials production to fight Germany on the Western Front. His commanding image, appearing on recruiting posters demanding “Your country needs you!”, remains recognized and parodied in popular culture. Despite having warned of the difficulty of provisioning Britain for a long war, he was blamed for the shortage of shells in the spring of 1915 – one of the events leading to the formation of a coalition government – and stripped of his control over munitions and strategy.

Kitchener drowned on 5 June 1916 when HMS Hampshire sank west of the Orkney Islands, Scotland. He was making his way to Russia in order to attend negotiations when the ship struck a German mine. He was one of more than 600 killed on board the ship.”

Lord Kitchener’s death brought about many conspiracy theories as a result. Some of them wacky- but interesting as it pertains to “Paul is Dead” and the other Beatles Mysteries.
“There are even some who have suggested that Kitchener did not die at all when the Hampshire went down. There are two main theories (both, unfortunately, as crack-brained as the other). One points to Kitchener’s membership of the Freemasons and suggests that his powerful friends in this organization, becoming aware of his many enemies, staged the entire incident for his benefit, so that he could escape them for good. The second theory (which is sometimes regarded as an extension of the first) points to the strange facial familiarity between Josef Stalin and Lord Kitchener. It is suggested that, when he escaped the wreck of the Hampshire (with or without the assistance of the Freemasons), Kitchener took on a new identity as the Russian communist leader. Bizarre as this theory may be, there is no denying that there is an uncanny resemblance between the pair…”
Credit: Anaibalan.com whom also has a story about the “Paul is Dead” mystery as well.
So yet another reference to a famous person faking his death and working as a double for a political/public figure.  Go figure!
The connections and “strange Beatles coincidences” keep coming.  Stay tuned for more double adventures.
A big shout out to my friend- Stephen Lennon who helped with the inspiration for this blog.  Thanks Stephen!
To be continued…..

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