In our last blog, we took you through the top Beatles attractions in Liverpool. You’ll remember us talking about Strawberry Field, the place that inspired John Lennon to write Strawberry Fields Forever. We also touched on briefly why it was special for John Lennon. We decided to visit this iconic site because it was opened for the public for the first time in 2019. However, due to the pandemic situation, not many have been able to visit or know about it.
So, on a cold winter’s day, we set out to see the famous red gates for ourselves and to find out what makes the place so special.
Strawberry Field – Not Just a Beatles Song
Strawberry Field is a former children’s home run by the Salvation Army. The original Victorian house built in 1870 was a private residence.
However, the house was gifted to The Salvation Army in 1934. In 1936, the Salvation Army opened a children’s home for girls in the house. Later, they started accepting boys also. Since then, for almost 70 years, it was a refuge for some of Liverpool’s most vulnerable children.
Although the original house was demolished in 1973 because of structural problems, they replaced it with purpose-built units. However, the children’s home closed down forever in 2005. Now, the Salvation Army uses it as a centre for spiritual exploration, retreat, and pastoral care.
Visiting the Site that Inspired John Lennon and Understanding Its Importance
The exhibition takes us through the time with its rich collection of archival footage, photographs, timelines, and a media guide. These help you to see for yourself John Lennon’s world where he played as a child and all that happened behind the famous red gates.
The exhibition has some interactives and offers a chance to immerse yourself in the life and times of Lennon. You’ll see the original piano which Lennon used to compose and record the iconic song Imagine. It is one of the most iconic songs of Lennon and was played at the closing ceremony of the London Olympics.
There’s an early draft of Strawberry Fields Forever lyrics handwritten by Lennon. Other attractions include modsels of the Swaramandala or Indian Harp – like the one George Harrison played in the song. You can try playing the instrument as well. There are a few memorabilia from Elvis Presley and much more.
Imagine More – Adding Value to Strawberry Field
The Imagine More café is another attraction at the Strawberry Field. It is a place to socialise and enjoy a selection of delicious dishes, with locally sourced ingredients. The café serves breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, Sunday lunch, and hot drinks.
However, there is more to the café than its tasty food and great ambiance. It also offers an opportunity for the Steps to Work programme trainees to complete their work placement. The trainees can get practical experience in catering, customer service, and hospitality. This improves their future employment prospects as they get the necessary skill, knowledge, and experience to succeed in life.
All proceeds from the café, gift shop and the exhibition goes to the Steps to Work programme. So, it would be a good idea to purchase the ticket for the exhibition, eat/drink at the café, or buy products from the gift shop when you visit Strawberry Field.
The Garden Where John Lennon Played as a Child
A visit to Strawberry Field is incomplete without visiting its famous gardens. John spent a lot of time here climbing the trees and playing with his friends or reflecting. The memories stayed with him and inspired him to write Strawberry Fields Forever.
The Iconic Red Gates of Strawberry Field
In the garden, you’ll find the iconic red gates. Don’t be surprised if you’ve already seen them at the entrance. The gates you see at the front are a replica. There is an interesting story behind it. Two thieves stole the original gates at the entrance in 2000 and sold them to an antique dealer. However, the dealer recognised the gate and restored them to the Salvation Army.
In 2011, the original gates were replaced with replicas and the former moved to a secure location in the gardens. So, you can see two red gates when you visit Strawberry Field.
Trees and Lawn
The garden is not huge or fanciful. Instead, it permeates a feeling of peace and content. You’ll enjoy a homely feel as you walk around the well-laid paths and lawn. There are several trees – ideal for climbing or reflecting under the shade.
A little maze on the lush green lawn is suited for playtime activities with kids. There is a patio to relax and take in the scenes before you. All in all, the garden is a wonderful place to be.
Strawberry Field in New York
When John Lennon died, Yoko Ono took a portion of his ashes and scattered them at a spot in Central Park, NY. This spot is now famous as Strawberry Field. However, the original place that inspired John Lennon to pen the lyrics to Strawberry Fields Forever is here in Liverpool.
All these make Strawberry Field a unique attraction for Beatles fans across the world. If you come to Liverpool, plan a visit to see the iconic red gates here. You can combine a visit here with the visit to the childhood homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
How to Reach & Other Details
Strawberry Field is at Beaconsfield Road, Liverpool. The place is easily accessible by car. The postcode is L25 6EJ and there is free parking at the premises.
You might have to book in advance (depending on the Covid regulations in place) to see the exhibition. The garden is free to enter (at the time of writing this post). Pre-booking is necessary if you wish to eat at the café. Call on 07407088968 to book a table. However, you may be able to buy some refreshments or snacks at the counter without booking in advance.
If you are travelling from far, be sure to check the government regulations in place at the time.
Click to watch our vlog (with English subtitles) on Strawberry Field.
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