london peter pan statue

The statue of Peter Pan in London’s Kensington Gardens

The statue of Peter Pan

The location of the statue is significant, because the writer James M Barrie (1860-1937) lived in Bayswater Road and often took walks in Kensington Gardens. It was on one of these walks that he met the children of the Llewelyn Davies family, with their nurse. He became friends with the boys and began telling them stories, which eventually turned into Barrie’s famous play “Peter Pan” (1904). The story of these encounters was the main theme of the 2004 film “Finding Neverland” which starred Johnny Depp as J M Barrie.

The statue dates from 1911 and was commissioned by Barrie himself. The sculptor was Sir George Frampton (1860-1928). The model for Peter was the actress Nina Boucicault (1867-1950) who had played the character of Peter in the first production of the play (traditionally, Peter has always been played by a woman).

Barrie stipulated that the statue should be placed in position overnight so that it would appear to regular walkers in the Gardens that it had sprung up “as if by magic”.

The figure of Peter stands, blowing his pipe, on top of a rough-looking plinth that closer inspection shows to be populated by a number of fairies, rabbits, squirrels and mice. It is therefore a “fun” piece of sculpture that children love to visit in order to spot all the animals and fairies and count how many there are. The ears of the creatures have been rubbed smooth by the small hands of generations of youngsters, which is exactly what Barrie would have wanted.

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Visitors to London can therefore walk along the same paths that J M Barrie and the “Lost Boys” walked more than a century ago and experience a little bit of magic of their own. It is undoubtedly one’s of London’s best-loved pieces of street art.

Picture credit. Martin Corey. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence.

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