The gardens of Strawberry Field, the former Salvation Army children’s home near John Lennon’s childhood home in Woolton, were the inspiration for the Beatles song Strawberry Fields Forever. Up until September 2019, Beatles fans were only able get as close as the gates to Strawberry Field but the property is now open to visitors who can explore the gardens and visit an exhibition about the site and its influence on John Lennon.
In the 1967 Beatles hit, John Lennon sings, “Let me take you down, ‘cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields” and Beatles fans have been making a pilgrimage to the site every since.
When Lennon was a young boy, Strawberry Field was the site of a Victorian-era gothic-style mansion that was used as an orphanage, although that building was demolished six years after the Beatles song was released and the children’s home was replaced with a newer one.
Strawberry Field is only an eight-minute walk from John Lennon’s childhood home on Menlove Avenue and he would visit the gardens frequently as a child. He would visit the annual summer garden party that was held at Strawberry Field and at other times he would climb the fence and trespass onto the site to play in the gardens.
What to see at Strawberry Field
The Salvation Army, who own the site, closed the children’s home in 2005 and have recently opened it to the public. The gardens have been landscaped with parts of the original mansion used as stone benches and a visitor centre with a cafe and exhibition space has been built on the site.
The exhibition features exhibits about the original mansion and how it became the Strawberry Field children’s home, John Lennon’s early life when he was growing up in the neighbourhood and how the site became an inspiration for the song. It includes authentic artefacts including John Lennon’s handwritten lyrics as well as multimedia exhibits such as interviews with people connected with the Beatles and Strawberry Field.
The gardens are a lovely spot to wander and they feature park benches made from the original Victorian-era mansion.
The visitor centre is run as part of the Salvation Army’s Steps to Work programme, which provides training and work experience for young people with disabilities.
Visiting Strawberry Field
Strawberry Field is in the wealthy Liverpool suburb of Woolton, close to where John Lennon was bought up.
You can get to Strawberry Field by taking local bus route 76 from Liverpool One bus station and getting off at Beaconsfield Road. The journey from the city centre takes around half an hour.
John Lennon’s childhood home is less than a 10-minute walk from Strawberry Field; however, you are only able to visit on a tour run by the National Trust which departs from Albert Dock.
Although entry to the gardens is free, there is a rather steep admission fee to see the exhibition.
The grounds and exhibition centre are wheelchair accessible.
The Imagine More cafe is open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea and, like the rest of the centre, is run by the Salvation Army as part of their Steps to Work programme.
Most visitors spend between one and two hours here.