The real Tinker Bell – a delightful piece of theatrical history will be on display at the new National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling.

Moat Brae house and gardens in Dumfries, which opens to the public in spring 2019, was where the teenage JM Barrie and his friends played the games that inspired Peter Pan.

When the play was first staged, at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London, in 1904, the mischievous fairy Tinker Bell was represented by a spotlight and the ringing of a small bell. 

Barrie had bought two bells for the purpose on a trip to Switzerland. Though tiny, they had a clear and distinctive sound that could be heard in every part of the theatre.

One bell was given to Elias Elias, the theatre’s foreman and scene changer and became a treasured family heirloom.

A descendent of Elias Elias was so interested when she discovered that the house where Peter Pan began was being restored that she offered to loan it to Moat Brae for public display.

Visitors will be transported back to the earliest days of the Peter Pan story, with the chance to see the bell and hear recordings of it ringing. 

Simon Davidson, Moat Brae’s Centre Director, said:“It’s quite magical to have the original Tinker Bell here at Moat Brae.

“It’s a very special piece of literary and theatrical history and I’m sure people will be charmed to see, and hear, the actual bell which JM Barrie chose to represent a character who came to be loved by generations of children all across the world.”

For further information about the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust see

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Notes for Editors 

About J M Barrie and the Trust 

  • Author and playwright J M Barrie lived in Dumfries from the age of 13 to 17, and played in the garden at Moat Brae. His first work of fiction was a “log book” recording the games of pirates and adventure that he played there under the name of “Sixteen String Jack”. He attended the nearby Dumfries Academy and enjoyed his first experiences in staged productions at Dumfries Theatre Royal. 
  • J M Barrie returned to the town and on being awarded the Freedom of Dumfries, he described his childhood there as “the happiest days” of his life. 
  • 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’. * For more information log onto the Trust website * Follow on Facebook and twitter@ppmbt 
  • For more information please contact Cathy Agnew 01387 255549 / 07796 176124 or Catherine Colwell 01387 255 549/07793 488 439.