The earliest reference to the Gothic Revival mansion 'Strawberry Field' dates from 1870, when it was owned by one George Warren, a wealthy shipping magnate. On an 1891 Ordnance Survey map the building and its grounds appear as the plural 'Strawberry Fields', although this had changed by the 1905 survey. In 1912 it was transferred to another wealthy merchant whose widow sold the estate to the Salvation Army in 1934. It opened as a children's home on 7 July 1936 by Lady Bates in the presence of General Evangeline Booth, daughter of the Salvation Army founder. With a capacity of up to forty girls, boys under 5 were introduced in the 1950s. Later still, older boys also became resident.
The name of the home became world-famous in 1967 with the release of The Beatles single "Strawberry Fields Forever" written by John Lennon. Lennon grew up near the home: one of his childhood treats was the garden party that took place each summer, on the grounds of Strawberry Field. Lennon's Aunt Mimi recalled: 'As soon as we could hear the Salvation Army Band starting, John would jump up and down shouting "Mimi, come on. We're going to be late."'
Lennon would often scale the walls of Strawberry Field to play with the children in the Salvation Army home. The proprietors complained to his school about his antics but to no avail. Finally, they took him to his Aunt Mimi with whom John was living. She told him if he continued to do this, they would hang him. He continued anyway. Thus, the line in the song, "Nothing to get hung about, Strawberry Fields forever".
Strawberry Field was recognised by Nikolaus Pevsner in his 1969 survey of the buildings of South Lancashire. However, by then the building was increasingly unfit for purpose. By 1973 the structural problems, including dry rot, meant that it was more cost effective to demolish the building and replace it with purpose-built children's home. This new home provided three family units, each accommodating 12 children. The driveway entrance to the building was moved further west along Beaconsfield Road so the gateposts bearing the name 'Strawberry Field' were no longer used. Throughout the 1970s and beyond however, the disused entrance and its gates became a mecca for Beatles fans from around the world. As a result, the gates continued to be painted bright red; the painted nameplates were also maintained.
The children's home finally closed in early January 2005, and the building was used by the Salvation Army as a church and prayer centre. The famous gates marking its entrance were removed and replaced with replicas in May 2011. The Salvation Army is planning to open Strawberry Field to the public for the first time, allowing visitors to explore the grounds. There will be a new centre featuring a training centre for young people with special educational needs, and a new exhibition space dedicated to the story of the place and the song "Strawberry Fields Forever".
- Strawberry Fields in New York City's Central Park, a memorial to John Lennon.
- The Beatles, Hunter Davies, London, 1968, p 9
- Pevsner, Nikolaus (1969) South Lancashire, 1st Edition, Penguin
- "Strawberry Fields in Liverpool - Home of the Beatles childhood". www.bedand-breakfastliverpool.co.uk.
- "Beatles' Strawberry Fields gates removed". BBC News. 2011-05-10. Retrieved 2018-08-15.
- "Strawberry Field Forever - Restoration - Liverpool". www.strawberryfieldliverpool.com.