Prospect Cottage

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

As Jarman's home[edit]

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 by 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]

Prospect Cottage, its garden and the surrounding nature of Dungeness are heavily featured in entries from his journals from 1989 to 1994 that were later published in the collections Modern Nature and Smiling in Slow Motion.[6]


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 partner Keith Collins. The house was put up for sale in 2018 after Collins' death,[3] its interior still contains artwork by Jarman's friends and admirers, including Maggi Hambling, John Maybury, Gus Van Sant and Richard Hamilton.[10]

The cottage and its garden were the subject of an exhibition at the Garden Museum in London in 2020.[11] In April 2022 the cottage featured in the episode of the BBC Two series Secrets of the Museum.[12]

Art Fund purchase[edit]

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.[13] 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[14] and 2020 Oscars ceremony,[15] with the suit auctioned online between 4 and 11 March by Phillips auction house, London, and selling for £16,000.[16]

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.[17] In 2022, a job advert was reported seeking a guardian for the property.[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. ^ a b 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. ^ "Derek Jarman: My Garrden's Boundaries are the Horizon". Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  12. ^ "BBC Two - Secrets of the Museum". BBC. Retrieved 20 April 2022.
  13. ^ "Countryfile - Dungeness" – via
  14. ^ Davies, Caroline (4 February 2020). "Sandy Powell's Bafta suit raises funds to save Derek Jarman's cottage" – via
  15. ^ Wally, Maxine (19 February 2020). "Why Brad and Leo Signed the Costume Designer Sandy Powell's Suit". W Magazine. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  16. ^ "Sandy Powell's Suit: An online auction in support of Derek Jarman's Prospect Cottage: London Auction Wednesday, March 4, 2020".
  17. ^ "Derek Jarman's Prospect Cottage saved for the nation". Art Fund. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  18. ^ Dickinson, Sophie. "Fancy a change of scene? Derek Jarman's magical Kent cottage needs a new guardian". Time Out Worldwide. Retrieved 3 June 2022.

External links[edit]

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