House and garden that inspired Peter Pan opens as the new National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling

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Moat Brae, the house and garden in Dumfries which inspired J.M. Barrie to create Peter Pan, opens its doors this weekend as a brand new visitor attraction. The new National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling opens today, Saturday June 1, after a ten-year restoration project.

The beautiful Georgian property in Dumfries, where the young J.M. Barrie and his friends played the games that inspired the iconic tale of Peter Pan, was saved from demolition in 2009 and since then over £8 million has been raised for its restoration and transformation.

Now open with a new lease of life, the attraction hopes to inspire young imaginations and promote a love of creativity amongst children. The National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling is predicted to attract around 31,000 visitors per year, generating £1.3 million for the local economy.

Visitors will be able to enjoy themed interactive exhibits, reading and play areas and temporary exhibitions, as well as a shop and café overlooking the River Nith. There will be costumed guides, discovery trails and a year-round programme of inspirational activities to help little ones discover a love of literature.

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The public fundraising campaign to save and restore Moat Brae was spearheaded by Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust Patron Joanna Lumley.

Joanna Lumley said: “The moment you step into Moat Brae you understand why J.M. Barrie called it ‘enchanted land’.

“It is fantastic that children and young people everywhere can now have the chance to enjoy its magic, discover the joys of Peter Pan, and revel in other children’s literature and stories from many different times, places and cultures. It’s a wonderful achievement.”

The project has been made possible thanks to the help of a wide variety of supporters including The National Lottery Heritage Fund, VisitScotland, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and Creative Scotland, as well as public fundraising.

Among the house’s features will be the original Tinker Bell (a small bell that J.M. Barrie bought to be rung whenever his fairy character appeared in the original stage version of the story) and a spectacular dolls’ house which is nearly six feet tall.

And outside, in the grounds where JM Barrie played pirates in the 1870s, will be the Neverland Discovery Garden, complete with a pirate ship, Wendy house, mermaid’s lagoon and an outdoor performance space.

Simon Davidson, Moat Brae Centre Director, said:“The opening will be a very special moment – Moat Brae inspired a truly great storyteller to create one of the greatest and best-loved children’s tales of all time. 

“And now it has been brought back to life as our National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling in order to spark the imaginations of many thousands of young people from every corner of the world.”

Moat Brae, which J.M. Barrie referred to as “enchanted land” will stage a wide variety of events and educational programmes. It will also celebrate the immense richness of modern and classic poems, stories and children’s literature and illustrations from at home and abroad.

Moat Brae is now open at 101 George Street, Dumfries, DG1 1EA -