HLF grant will fund 'Neverland' landscape, created from the gardens which inspired Peter Pan

The magical gardens which inspired one of the most famous and well-loved children's stories of all time are closer to being regenerated after they won part of a £1.78 million grant from HLF Scotland.

Joanna Lumley with two 'Tinkerbell' fairies in Moat Brae grounds
Joanna Lumley with two 'Tinkerbell' fairies in Moat Brae grounds

Author of Peter Pan, J M Barrie played out pirate and castaway adventures in the gardens of Moat Brae House in Dumfries as a child and credited them with planting the seed of the novel in his mind.

The HLF grant will help transform Moat Brae House and its gardens into Scotland’s first centre for children’s literature and storytelling promoting creativity, imagination and play.

The grant follows a £687,500 award from Creative Scotland last month and means the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust is well on the way to raising the £5m needed for the work on the estate.

Trust project development director Cathy Agnew said the HLF money had "completely tipped the balance" and the trust was confident the rest of the money would be raised and the project tendered in time for work to start in autumn next year.

The gardens will be completely re-landscaped and themed as a ‘Neverland discovery’ garden, with art works, installations and new planting, aiming at both fun and eductation.

The design team is led by Edinburgh-based landscape architect Peter McGowan at Peter McGowan Associates whose design currently includes a pirate ship, pirate cave, Indian camp, fairy bower, mermaid lagoon and Wendy house.

Patron of the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust Joanna Lumley, said of the announcement: "This grant will make a sensational difference to Moat Brae and the plans for the future of the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust. It means that we can now move swiftly towards our goals of restoring the house and garden in readiness for its role in the literary life of children in Scotland.

"Our aims are to nurture the memories of past writers and to encourage the emergence of new young talent: to respect our extraordinary literary inheritance and to enable children's imaginations to fly, like Peter Pan. What a thrilling piece of good news."

Head of HLF Scotland Colin McLean said: "Moat Brae and its gardens have an important place in the history of Dumfries. A new breath of life has the potential to transform them into a visitor attraction that could boost the town’s tourist economy and inspire children today and tomorrow, as they once inspired J M Barrie. We are delighted to be able to support ambitious and inspirational project."


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