Joanna Lumley is raising £4m to turn Moat Brae in Dumfries – birthplace of JM Barrie’s tale – into a children’s literature centre.
By Severin Carrell
For the teenager James Matthew Barrie, the sloping, terraced garden overlooking a gentle river was an enchanted land where he and his friends became pirates, clambered over walls, built hideouts and scaled trees in the sunshine.
But the back garden of Moat Brae, a late Georgian villa in the rural town of Dumfries, became more than a playground for the aspiring novelist and playwright. Thirty years later, it inspired Neverland, the magical kingdom where Peter Pan and Tinkerbell flew into battle against Captain Hook, an adventure that captured the imaginations of millions of real-life children.
Now, nearly 140 years after JM Barrie played there as a boy, the mansion and gardens are to be transformed into a national centre for children’s literature, after the derelict and decaying building and its garden were saved from demolition by a local trust.
Supported by the actor Joanna Lumley, who has a holiday home nearby, the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust has launched a global appeal for £4m to save the house from ruin and return it and the garden to their original splendour.