In 1966, Lennon was in Almería filming Richard Lester’s action comedy “How I Won the War” where he played a supporting character, The Gripweed Musketeer.
After a short stint at the Green Dolphin (Read my post about El Dofín Verde), Lennon moved to a bigger, more accommodating dwelling for himself and his new entourage of party guests, which included his then-wife Cynthia, Ringo Starr and movie producer Denis O’Dell, among others.
The Santa Isabel, a 19th-century mansion locally known as El Cortijo Romero, was a spacious building with a belvedere flooded with natural light and a view of the distant sea.
Cortijo Romero villa – a large residence from 1866, which many movie stars stayed in, including Peter O’Toole and Yul Brynner. The reason for that was that spaghetti westerns were being filmed there.

Strawberry Fields
The iron gates and lush gardens, which surrounded the mansion, reminded Lennon of his childhood, during which he spend some time playing in Strawberry Field, belonging to the Salvation Army in Liverpool, situated near the musician’s family home. “There were the same elements as Strawberry Field,” Lennon said. “The wild garden, the water, the high fence and the shouts of children playing in the school next door.” This nostalgia led him to complete a melody he had begun to shape. This composition, initially titled “It’s Not Too Bad,” would later become the psychedelic rock classic “Strawberry Fields Forever”.

The bathroom and the Strawberry Fields demos
The building has been neatly renovated, housing a thoughtful museum determined to highlight the irony of having had cinema and music icons in Almería. An entire wing of the museum is presented as an homage to Lennon, where there are notes scribbled in Lennon’s handwriting and a montage of apparently rare photographs of him on the set of “How I Won The War.” There is a reconstruction of the bathroom, complete with white tub, where the so-called Santa Isabel demos for Strawberry Fields Forever were recorded.

While passing the nights and afternoons writing at the Santa Isabel, Lennon was at once struggling to identify himself as either madman or genius, with few peers, while having the good spirits to invite the listener to a playful world in his imagination and memory. Before leaving the villa, he scribbled “Santa Isabel” on the boxes of recorded demos and brought them back to Abby Road, where his team of musical wizards awaited.

The first demos of what would later become ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, recorded at Santa Isabel.

The original trailer of ‘How I Won The War’ (1967)