George Harrison with Mukunda Goswami in Bhaktivedanta Manor 1996
The temple was gifted to the Hare Krishna Movement by one of The Beatles
On the outskirts of London sits a picturesque Tudor mansion, the grade II listed building, previously called Piggott’s Manor, is the UK base of the Hare Krishna Movement – the religious belief based on Hindu teachings.
The property, situated in Aldenham, near Watford, is now known as Bhaktivedanta Manor and is one of the most frequently visited Krishna temples in Europe.
This unconventional temple was purchased for the religion’s followers by a wealthy benefactor – George Harrison.
George became involved with the Hare Krishna religion after he and the other Beatles visited India in the 60s, just as Hare Krishna was making its way into Western countries.
When The Beatles left India they had a taste for Indian spirituality, but often nowhere to practise it.
At the same time, big names in the Hare Krishna movement moved to London to try and establish a temple here. One of these big names was Shyamasundar das, one of the pioneers of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).
Shyamasundar das and George Harrison were reunited at an Apple Records event in 1969 and the two became close. This furthered Harrison’s investment in the Hare Krishna Movement, and he became a devoted follower.
He was so invested that it’s said he and John Lennon once chanted Hare Krishna – the 16 word chant repeated by followers of the Hare Krishna movement – for 17 recurring hours on a very long car journey between France and Portugal.
George’s Hare Krishna interested grew, and he even included the Hare Krishna chant in his solo song “My Sweet Lord”.
By this point, ISKCON was growing like wildfire across the world and in London. The only temple, which was then at Bury Place near the British Museum, was getting far too small for the number of visitors, so George stepped in.
He asked a Hare Krishna follower to find a property in London which was big and not too far out of the city, and so they settled on Piggott’s Manor in Hertfordshire, which would eventually become Bhaktivedanta Manor.
When George purchased the temple, the founder of the international Hare Krishna movement, Srila Prabhupada, said: “Because he has given shelter to Krishna by providing this temple, Krishna will surely provide shelter for him.”
George Harrison sadly passed away in 2001 from lung cancer, aged 58. The temple is still considered the UK base of the Hare Krishna movement and is frequently used for prayer, functions and events.