Visiting Barrie’s Birthplace

Escaping from a rainy Saturday afternoon, the girls and I headed to Peter Pan author JM Barrie’s birthplace in Kirriemuir.

Barrie was born in 1860 in a small white-washed weaver’s house in the centre of town, and when he died in 1937 he returned home to be buried in the local graveyard. Kirriemuir has been sprinkled with Barrie’s generosity and memory throughout; from the cricket pavilion and camera obscura which he gifted to the town, to the statue of Peter Pan in the centre.

It’s quite surprising, considering he was the ninth child of ten (two died before his birth and one after) that the cottage is only four rooms, and one of those was for the loom. Unfortunately photography is not allowed at all inside, but the rooms have been decorated as they may have looked, with some pieces of original furniture and some from Barrie’s London home such as his desk. There are lovely photos of Barrie, his family and friends throughout, and there’s a museum section in a room taken from the house next door with costumes and posters from Peter Pan plays and links to his love of cricket.

Outside the house is the washhouse where Barrie used to unleash his imagination and act out plays, along with a small garden which has a beautifully crafted statue of Tick Tock the crocodile crafted from driftwood accompanied by the sound of a ticking clock.

I would say that, certainly at the moment, the experience is more suited to adults. I think it’s a great example of a weaver’s cottage and how life would have been, with a reasonable amount of information on Barrie but there was very little aimed at children.

Previous reviews mention colouring sheets for kids and dress up clothes so I expect that some changes have had to be made due to Covid, however a little game of “Count The Fairies” would have been good considering the amount of small fairy ornaments there are around the house, or a “treasure hunt” where the kids have to spot certain things would have been good, especially now that the majority of restrictions have been lifted.

Luckily I’m a member of the National Trust For Scotland so I can go back when I have a child-free minute but I doubt I would otherwise. I feel that more could have been done to make it all flow better and add a bit of fun for visitors of all ages at very little cost. For a museum on one of the world’s best know children’s authors, I had hoped for a little more magic!

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