THE WIZARD OF
HOUSE & GARDENS
In 1990, 25-year-old East End boy John Tode bought the UK's most ordinary house, a three bedroom, semi-detached ex-council property in Essex. On Saturday 6th October of that year arrived at 51 Newton Green in a VW Beetle with everything he owned in the world on the back seat. Adopting his journalist pseudonym John Trevillian, he spent a quarter of a century working with 138 artists, artisans and volunteers transforming the house and gardens into ‘Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home’ (The Times).
Once the house and gardens were completed on Tuesday 6th October 2015, as author John Tarrow, he wrote The Stranger's Guide To Talliston, the fantasy adventure fictionalising that amazing journey. Then, after 30 years working and living inside this unique and inspirational project, at his 55th birthday on Saturday 18th January 2020, he gave the house and everything in it to The Talliston Fellowship and left the house and gardens just as he had arrived: in a VW Beetle with everything he owned in the world on the back seat.
Years 1 – 25 | 18 January 1965 – 18 January 1990
Persona | Bard | Huan Caius Mereddin
Bird totem | Raven
Life phase | Knowing
John Edward Tode was born to parents Jean & Ronald Tode on 18th January 1965 in London's East End. His early life found within him a love of stories and writing and he spent his childhood with a Smith Corona Calypso typewriter and a wild imagination, both of which he still owns. Inspired by swords and sorcery, he became captivated by ancient and medieval history and through channels such as Dungeons & Dragons and The Far Isles Medieval Society, he studied Celtic poetry, song and story – forming the persona of Huan Caius Mereddin, an exiled bard living in an abandoned tower in Wales. Adopting the raven as his totem bird, and moving both physically and spiritually far from his urban origins, he began to make his plans for taking the life he was given and forging it into a life he wanted.
With no formal building or interior design training, using just the power of his own imagination, Tode began to create a world that truly reflected the life that he wanted to live in all the places he wanted to live in. Divorcing himself from time and place, he began each room with a question, looking through the magnolia walls and beyond the cramped dimensions into far larger worlds. And in finding the house he also found himself.
Years 26 – 50 | 18 January 1990 – 18 January 2015
Persona | Shaman | Antony R. Kane
Bird totem | Eagle
Life phase | Doing