Prospect Cottage

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Prospect Cottage in May 2007

Prospect Cottage is a house on the coast in Dungeness, Kent. Originally a Victorian fisherman's hut,[1][2] the house was purchased by director and artist Derek Jarman in 1987, and was his home until his death in 1994.[3]

Jarman bought the house following the death of his father, at a time when he was looking to leave London.[2] Actress and friend Tilda Swinton recalls Jarman buying "gallons of pitch black paint" to redecorate.[2] The cottage facade of tarred boards and bright yellow paintwork were maintained from the previous owners.[citation needed] The timber walls of the cottage are weatherproofed with tar, and one wall is decorated with lines from the John Donne poem "The Sun Rising".[4] Jarman's 1990 film The Garden was filmed at the house.[5]

Sculptures and planting in the garden

Jarman cultivated a garden in the shingle surrounding the cottage, a mixture of sculptures assembled from driftwood and other flotsam from the beaches of Dungeness,[4] and hardy plants which could survive the coastal weather,[6] supported by manure from a local farm dug into small holes in the shingle.[7] Writing of his early months at Prospect Cottage, he said that initially "people thought I was building a garden for magical purposes - a white witch out to get the nuclear power station".[7] Jarman described his garden as "a therapy and a pharmacopoeia",[7] and would go on to write a book about it, Derek Jarman's Garden, illustrated with photographs by Howard Sooley and published posthumously in June 1995. A set of prints of the photographs was acquired by the Garden Museum for its collection in 2012.[8]

The gardeners Beth Chatto and Christopher Lloyd stumbled across Prospect Cottage and its garden in the summer of 1990; the garden became the inspiration for the Gravel Garden at Beth Chatto Gardens at Elmstead Market in Essex.[9]

After Jarman's death in 1994, the cottage was bequeathed to his friend Keith Collins. The house was put up for sale in 2018 after Collins' death,[3] its interior still containing artwork by Jarman's friends and admirers, including Maggi Hambling, John Maybury, Gus Van Sant and Richard Hamilton.[10]

With the possibility of the house being sold privately, Art Fund launched a campaign in January 2020 to raise money for "a permanently funded programme to conserve and maintain the building, its contents and its garden for the future".[3] The appeal was featured on an episode of BBC1's Countryfile in February 2020, with rare filming inside the cottage allowed for the programme.[11] As part of the fundraising efforts, costume designer Sandy Powell, a friend of Jarman's, collected film stars' signatures on her cream calico suit at the 2020 BAFTAs award show[12] and 2020 Oscars ceremony,[13] with the suit auctioned online between 4 and 11 March by Phillips auction house, London. and selling for £16,000.[14]

It was announced in April 2020 that, thanks to these fundraising efforts, Prospect Cottage had been saved for the nation with Creative Folkestone becoming the custodians of the property.[15] In 2022, a job advert was reported seeking a guardian for the property.[16]

The cottage and its garden were the subject of an exhibition at the Garden Museum in London in 2020.[17] In April 2022 the cottage featured in the episode of the BBC Two series Secrets of the Museum that focused on Sandy Powell's autographed suit.[18]


  1. ^ McCrum, Kirstie (23 January 2020). "The tiny Kent cottage which needs £3.5 million to be saved". kentlive. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Brown, Mark (22 January 2020). "'A toolbox for his work': fundraiser launched to save Derek Jarman's home". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Harris, Gareth (22 January 2020). "Artists rally to save Prospect Cottage, the house of late filmmaker Derek Jarman".
  4. ^ a b Gerdes, Stefanie (11 August 2015). "Do you want to buy Derek Jarman's cottage - and 500 acres of Dungeness shingle beach?". Gay Star News. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  5. ^ "Campaign launched to raise £3.5 million to save Derek Jarman's house for the queer community". PinkNews. 28 January 2020. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  6. ^ Fowler, Alys (24 September 2014). "Gardens: planting on the edge in Derek Jarman's garden". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  7. ^ a b c Billinghurst, Jane (2011). Armchair Book of Gardens: A Miscellany. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-7627-6782-3.
  8. ^ "Howard Sooley: Photographs of Prospect Cottage". Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  9. ^ "Garden Museum: When Beth met Derek". 3 July 2020. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  10. ^ Knegt, Peter (30 January 2020). "Filmmaker Derek Jarman's cottage was a vital creative hub. Now Tilda Swinton is trying to save it". CBC Arts. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  11. ^ "Countryfile - Dungeness" – via
  12. ^ Davies, Caroline (4 February 2020). "Sandy Powell's Bafta suit raises funds to save Derek Jarman's cottage" – via
  13. ^ Wally, Maxine (19 February 2020). "Why Brad and Leo Signed the Costume Designer Sandy Powell's Suit". W Magazine. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  14. ^ "Sandy Powell's Suit: An online auction in support of Derek Jarman's Prospect Cottage: London Auction Wednesday, March 4, 2020".
  15. ^ "Derek Jarman's Prospect Cottage saved for the nation". Art Fund. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  16. ^ Dickinson, Sophie. "Fancy a change of scene? Derek Jarman's magical Kent cottage needs a new guardian". Time Out Worldwide. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  17. ^ "Derek Jarman: My Garrden's Boundaries are the Horizon". Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  18. ^ "BBC Two - Secrets of the Museum". BBC. Retrieved 20 April 2022.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°55′21″N 0°58′34″E / 50.9225°N 0.9761°E / 50.9225; 0.9761