John and Yoko arrived back in England on this day from Canada, where they had launched their global peace campaign. Part of the campaign was to have been a Christmas Eve antiwar demonstration due to take place in various countries, for which the couple had tape-recorded a greeting to be played.
Upon their arrival back in the UK, they were driven to Rochester Cathedral in Kent, where they intended to join a fast and sit-in calling for peace and to highlight world poverty. They arrived, accompanied by comedian Dick Gregory, in a white Rolls-Royce.
They were due to take part in a 24-hour sleepover with the homeless of Kent. However, a small crowd was already present when they arrived, and it was felt likely that their continued presence would have caused a commotion.
Lennon, Ono and Gregory posed for press photographers, and briefly went inside the cathedral but soon returned to their limousine to avoid being mobbed. They later attended midnight mass in the cathedral before returning to Tittenhurst Park in Ascot, Berkshire.
Also on this day...
- 2015: I want to stream your band: The Beatles’ music made available on streaming services worldwide
- 1964: Another Beatles Christmas Show begins
- 1963: The Beatles’ Christmas Show begins
- 1962: Live: Star-Club, Hamburg
- 1960: Live: Grosvenor Ballroom, Wallasey
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.
learning something new every day ! I had no idea the Ono-Lennons visited Rochester. strange that they had intended to go to midnight mass.
My wife and I were there than night. It was organised by a guy that worked in Vyes in Rochester High street. It was poorly organised was cold a drizzling and there was just a plastic sheet for them to sit on, no cover……
John & Yoko did go in to Rochester Cathedral. My then boyfriend and I were waiting outside with a guy called Tony Peters (if there was anyone else there, I can’t remember them), who ran the local branch of Shelter I believe, when their Rolls appeared and drew up in front of us. John & Yoko got out & Tony Peters introduced everybody. I was overcome and had to leave almost immediately or pass out. They went to the Cathedral (a friend of mine was in there and managed to give them a gift), but apparently they were mobbed and didn’t stay long.
I was there too. I remember the Cathedral officials asking people to stop smoking in the Cathedral and not to stub their cigarettes out on the floor! The Cathedral was packed.
Yes, I was there and one of the fasters. It was meant to highlight the terrible situation in Biafra where thousands were dying of starvation . I stood next to John and was very much in awe of him. Yes he did not stay long but he told us they would be joining us in fasting but not outside the cathedral but at home. I was surprised at how strong his liverpudlian accent was. Occasionally I look on utube to listen to imagine . The most amazing version sung by Russian children in competition. It’s an incredibly simple message. Here’s hoping!
I participated in that 50 hour protest on the lawn outside Rochester Cathedral ober the christmas holiday in 1969. I was in the Army and thought it was a good thing to do to make a public stand against war etc. I became a conscientious objestor.
We were 10 or 11 people who slept out under a plastic canvis and although there was an Anti-war element to the protest, its main focus to to publicise the flight of the homeless in the UK. John & Yoko provided us with 3 wicker-baskets of white flowers (not sure if they were white Roses or not) which we did to all who passed our site. John & Yoko wanted to join in our protest but after an hour or so it proved impossible because of the crowds etc. It was one of the most importants moment of my life and decided to become a pacifist and, 50 years later I remain a convimced Pacifist. I live now in Botswana.