PRESS RELEASE: Joanna Lumley Launches £100,000 Drive to Help Save Home That Inspired Peter Pan

23rd September 2013

For immediate release                                  23, September 2013


Actor’s Wigtown Book Festival appearance will support Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust Windows Appeal to create a new children’s literature centre


A £100,000 appeal for vital restoration work at the house and garden which inspired J M Barrie’s Peter Pan will be launched by Joanna Lumley at the Wigtown Book Festival.

The Windows Appeal is vital to make sure the beautiful Moat Brae House, in Dumfries, is wind and watertight – paving the way for the next stage in its transformation into an international centre for children’s literature.

Joanna, who is Patron of the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust, will launch the fundraising drive while at the festival where she will speak about her life and her memoir Absolutely during a sell-out appearance on Saturday, 28 September.

Explaining the importance of the project, and of the Windows Appeal, Joanna said: “I love children and children’s literature.  The idea that this old and beautiful house can be saved and become a children’s literature centre for Scotland, welcoming in children from all over the UK and the world, is just brilliant. When I heard about it, it was just like Tinker Bell had gone ‘ping’ on my head with her wand – it seemed such a wonderful idea.

“The Windows Appeal is marvellous – making the building wind and watertight is essential, and windows played such an important part in the story. Peter Pan came in through the windows, and the children followed him out through the windows. It is there that Mrs Darling waited for them to return.

“There is something very special about windows as the link between this world and the magical one of Peter Pan. The idea that you can sponsor a window and have your very own link with Neverland is wonderful.”

The trust is offering specific sponsorship opportunities including for Peter Pan’s Window – the one from which Peter, Wendy, Michael, John and Tinker Bell were said to have first flown to their adventures in Neverland.

The trust saved Moat Brae House and Garden just days before the building was due to be demolished in 2009 and have been developing their vision for its future ever since. The house itself will become an international visitor centre – with an attic room recreated as a 19th century children’s nursery like the one in the story. The garden and woods will be brought to life as Neverland – a place where children can play and dream of being part of that magical tale.

Part of the idea is to inspire a love of reading among children. Joanna said: “I loved J M Barrie and the Peter Pan story. It was one of the great fortunes of my life was to belong to a reading family. We all read books, and we would be given books at birthdays and Christmas. Reading gave me the chance to fly in my imagination and was the lift I needed to help me achieve so much that I did in my later life.

“And nowadays I also love book festivals and am really looking forward to going to Wigtown. They are marvellous gatherings of people and ideas.”

During the festival Joanna will also see work by Spring Fling’s artist in residence, Astrid Jaekel, who will temporarily take over a Wigtown cottage and create an artwork across the three upper floor windows. This will use the Peter Pan quotation “As he leapt at the window Nana had closed it quickly, too late to catch him, but his shadow had not had time to get out”, which will be interwoven with illustrations. The ground floor window will have an artwork showing the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust Building surrounded by a magical garden, in order to raise awareness of the fundraising campaign.

Cathy Agnew, Project Director for the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust, said: “We saved Moat Brae House just three days before the bulldozers were due to arrive. A lot of work has already been done but we urgently need £100,000 to restore the 39 windows, which will make the building wind and watertight – securing it for the next chapter in its future.

“Supporting the Windows Appeal is a wonderful way to have an enduring association with J M Barrie and his ‘enchanted land’. We plan to inspire future generations through our recreation of the Never Land, and celebrating great children’s stories.”

Sponsors and donors will have the pleasure of a life-long association with a project that will bring joy to untold numbers of children – grandparents may even consider it as a way of making an enduring and inspiring gift to their own grandchildren.

Adrian Turpin, Wigtown Book Festival Director, said: “Joanna Lumley's connection to Dumfries and Galloway is a wonderful story in itself, and we're delighted to be welcoming her into the Wigtown Book Festival.

“Our 10-day packed programme of talks and activities is about books and much more - from foraging on the Saltway saltmarsh to walking in the steps of The Wicker Man - it invites visitors to embrace Galloway's great heritage and outdoors.

“J M Barrie's inspiration for Peter Pan is an exciting and universal slice of such heritage, and we hope the public responds generously to the restoration of Moat Brae House.”



Notes for editors

  • Moat Brae House is a Georgian townhouse, originally built in 1823 and designed by architect Walter Newall.
  • The house belonged to solicitor Henry Gordon whose sons Stuart and Hal befriended J M Barrie when he started at Dumfries Academy. The three boys’ games in the gardens inspired Peter Pan.
  • The Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust was set up in 2009 to save Moat Brae House and garden from demolition and to celebrate its international literary connection as ‘The Birthplace of Peter Pan’. Its aim is to save and restore the ‘B listed’ Moat Brae house and garden in George Street, Dumfries, where J. M. Barrie played as a child and was inspired to write one of the most famous children’s stories in the world, developing this into Scotland’s Centre for Children’s Literature.
  • The Trust is currently working on Phase A restoration work on Moat Brae House. The work is expected to be completed by the end of 2013 and will put a new roof on the house, repair external walls and replace defective walls, floors and ceilings inside. The work would result in a wind and watertight structure, ready for the next phase of its development as a national centre for children’s literature.
  • The Heritage Lottery Fund for Scotland has awarded the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust a Round 1 development grant of £219,700. Together with a Development Award of £45,000 from Creative Scotland and matching funds from other sources, the Trust has begun work on the design of the new development which is expected to take up to 2 years to complete.
  • The Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust is a member of the Association of Building Preservation Trusts.
  • For more information log onto the Trust website
  • This project has been adopted for support by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust

·          For further media information contact Matthew Shelley on 07786 704299 or at

  • PPMBT is a Registered Scottish Charity Number SC041382 Company Number SC363695

·          Astrid’s website is at

·          For more about Spring Fling see


About Wigtown Book Festival

  • The festival is one of the largest in the UK and the second largest in Scotland after Edinburgh. Set up more than a decade ago to help regenerate an economically disadvantaged rural community, the event now contributes more than £750,000 a year to the local economy. Since becoming a charity in 2007, Wigtown Book Festival has more than doubled in size and won two national awards, a VisitScotland Thistle, the Arts & Business Scotland Community Award, and the inaugural Creative Places Award for communities under 2,000 people.

·          For tickets go to Festival dates September 27 - October 6, 2013.


“For our escapades in a certain Dumfries garden, which is enchanted land to me, was certainly the genesis of that nefarious work – Peter Pan” - J.M Barrie