Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see
It's getting hard to be someone but it all works out
It doesn't matter much to me
Let me take you down, because I'm going to Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about
Strawberry Fields forever
Our Magical Mystery Tour continues....
The origin of Strawberry Field dates back to just after the Civil War, when the property was owned by a rich ship owner named George Warren. He built a gothic mansion on the site, complete with the wrought iron gate, gardens and flowers.
Strawberry Field was the name of a Salvation Army children's home (nee orphanage) opened in 1936, near John Lennon's childhood home in nearby Woolton, which is a prestigious middle-class suburb of Liverpool.
John remembered the grounds fondly from his youth as a place of escapism and his own "secret garden."
His Aunt Mimi, whom he lived with nearby, tried to thwart him from visiting the grounds because she thought the setting would be a bad influence on the boy who'd been abandoned by both his father, and later, through a second marriage, his mother. When Lennon was a baby, his father Alf abandoned them, and his mother Julia hooked up with another man who didn't want John in the picture at all. John was shipped off to his mother's sister's home in Woolton. When John and his Aunt Mimi would argue about his going to Strawberry Field, John would reply, what are they going to do, hang me? Ergo, the line - nothing to get hung about
No one I think is in my tree - in Lennon's own words: "What I'm saying, in my insecure way, is 'Nobody seems to understand where I'm coming from. I seem to see things in a different way from most people.'"
Yeah, there's days I get where he's coming from
Again, another surreal moment as we drove down the roadway approaching Strawberry Field and had the song piping in overhead, as seen here in this quick video:
The children's home was closed in 2005 when there was only three children remaining in the home, and the property has essentially been abandoned ever since.
Lennon left money in his will to sustain Strawberry Field. His widow Yoko also made donations to the home to keep it open.
The Salvation Army is now planning to reopen Strawberry Field to the public for the first time in decades, allowing visitors to explore its grounds. It's going to feature a new training center for young people with special education needs. Thankfully, it will also feature an exhibition space dedicated to the history of the grounds.
Truth be told, the pitstop at Strawberry Field was somewhat startling, depressing, and a stark reminder of the need for us to preserve history. The morning we were there, we were one of two busloads of tourists visiting the site during a 15 minute span. I found myself thinking it was a missed opportunity for a fund-raising campaign. I would have gladly made a donation to help preserve/restore the green space if there was a functioning visitor's center at the site.
I've been to the American version of Strawberry Field in New York's Central Park across from Lennon's Dakota apartment, as you can see, and seriously, it has more of a feeling of respect, homage, and tribute than the authentic article.
Here's Mendips, the house where John lived with his Aunt Mimi at 251 Menlove Avenue
An interesting fact from our tour guide - see the blue plaque beneath the window? The English Heritage only allows for the affixing of those award plaques when the subject of honor either reaches 100 years old, or has been dead for 20 years. Lennon's could be posted in 2000. Harrison's can be placed on the home seen in the previous blog in 2021.
Thankfully, Yoko Ono bought the property and it was was eventually protected by the United Kingdom's National Trust and preserved as a museum. Paul and Martin took the National Trust tour back during one of Martin's summer holidays home.
Yoko Ono visited Lennon's home just a couple of weeks back and shared this pic on her Instagram account, with the caption "I feel John here with me...I love you John. Yoko'"
Supposedly, Lennon wrote Please Please me here in this room
John's tough childhood would continue, as one day, his mother came to visit him here at this house, but he wasn't home. As she left, she was struck by a car while crossing the street and killed. John was 17. The driver of the car, an off-duty policeman believed to have been intoxicated, beat the charge, and according to our Magical Mystery Tour Guide, it's that incident that many believe fostered Lennon's distrust of authority.
Just a few blocks away, is one of Paul's seven Liverpool homes, at 20 Forthlin Road, said to be the favorite of his family's during their years in Liverpool.
This too, has been protected by the UK National Trust. Lennon and McCartney allegedly wrote I saw Her Standing There here at this location
Paul's mother, Mary, died of cancer when he was 14, and that death, coupled with the death of Lennon's mother, was seen as a traumatizing experience that bonded the two even closer.
McCartney said the impetus for Let It Be was a dream he had about his mother, about 10 years after she died, in which she came to him in troubled times, bringing him peace.
Hearing Let It Be as we drove the streets between McCartney and Lennon's home was another in a series of unforgettable moments on the tour.
Here's a quick video clip of that moment:
Next up: the tour's final stop, an underground cavern