Derek Jarman’s Home In Dungeness: Where Jesus Walked In The Garden

"Once one turns the comer onto the Dungeness road, one is in another world" - Derek Jarman

Before a run of Derek Jarman’s (31 January 1942 – 19 February 1994) The Garden at New York’s Metrograph theater, the British director spoke about his own garden and his house at Dungeness on the coast of Kent in England. Jarman made The Garden on the grounds of his seaside cottage, where he moved to in 1987 shortly after his diagnosis with HIV, which took his life.

The interview took place in Jarman’s garden. We’re including parts of it and others here in light of a new book of his home, the sublime Prospect Cottage. Shielded from public view by net curtains hung by his partner, Keith Collins, after his death, the house has been photographed by Gilbert McCarragher for the work Prospect Cottage: Derek Jarman’s House, published by Thames & Hudson



“As soon as I looked at this fishing community desert, I thought it was a great place to make the life of Christ. I was thinking with the fishermen and the boats you can make it like the Sea of Galilee and that’s how it started. The garden was both the Garden of Eden and Gethsemane.”


The Spring Room

Derek Jarman’s home at Dungeness.

Jarman’s AID medication

“We had made part of The Last of England down here, in fact, and various pop promos, and got to know this place. It’s very unusual and quite unlike anything I have seen in England. There is only a mile or two like this. Once one turns the comer onto the Dungeness road, one is in another world.

“In some way it reminded me of North America, with its telegraph poles and crazy angles. It is also a working area, so it is not pretty, but it has the best skies you can imagine. Because it is so flat and there are no trees, it’s like a desert. You watch the sun come out of the sea in front of the house and the sun set behind the house in the evening. It has wonderful light. Then there is the nuclear power station which in some ways has stopped this being turned into an area where lots of people come and have holiday chalets.”


Jarman’s bedroom

Jarman’s home life growing up. In 1987 he shared an anecdote:

“I once went downstairs to find my mother making a vegetarian meal for a 7ft tall dreadlocked black guy who’d knocked on the door dressed in rags. This was early 60s suburban Surrey. He wanted to baptise her, there and then, into a rarefied one true church of Christ on Earth. So to be pleasant, but because he wanted to pour cooking oil over her and she’d been to the hairdressers, mother decided, ‘Derek will be baptised!’

“So I was forced to my knees and covered in oil. And in the middle of this ceremony, my father arrived home, with bowler hat and umbrella. And he just looked at us, through his monocle, said nothing and retired to his den.”


The clapperboard from his movie The Tempest, released in 1979

Maggi Hambling’s portrait of Derek Jarman 1998

Jarman’s study

Derek Jarman’s home at Dungeness.

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