Derek Jarman Pocket Park blog – part 7

Discovering Dungeness – part one

The Pocket Park continues to go from strength to strength and despite this summer’s mini heatwave we’re delighted to see the beds beginning to fill out and provide a green haven in the city centre. It’s been lovely to chat to visitors over the summer and a real boost to hear all the positive feedback. It’s great to see the garden being used by lots of different people; some taking a break from their office, others having a coffee after visiting the gallery or just taking a moment to sit and enjoy the plants.  

Pocket Park view of the garden including yellow stricture with plants climbing up and along the railings

With the garden beginning to establish itself thoughts naturally turned to our long awaited visit to Prospect Cottage and Dungeness.

The original visit was planned over two years ago, at the very beginning of our garden journey, but Covid has meant we’ve had to use our imagination and creativity to drive the project forward. But now the time had come! with the support of the Manchester Wellbeing Fund we set off from Manchester Piccadilly on a bright and sunny September morn for the journey southwards. There was a mixture of excitement but also apprehension as we boarded the train.

How would it feel to finally be standing in the place we’d all thought about, talked about, and imagined for so long? Would it be as we imagined? 

Members of Pocket Park group as they board the train in Piccadilly station

We would have to wait a little longer to find out though as we decided to make a detour and visit Folkestone on the way. There is a connection with our visit to Dungeness though as the organisation Creative Folkestone are the custodians of Prospect Cottage and had arranged for us to see inside the cottage, but more of that later!  

Creative Folkestone is “a visionary arts charity dedicated to transforming Folkestone through collective creative activity, making the town a better place to live, work, play and visit.” We went exploring through the town to discover a whole range of art works. 

Group infant of Gilbert & George billboard
They Shot Them’, a billboard by Gilbert and George, commissioned for Creative Folkestone Triennial 2021.
Mindy infront of Michael Craig Martin artwork on the corner of a colourful building
Mindy underneath Michael Craig-Martin’s Folkestone Lightbulb, commissioned by the Creative Foundation for Folkestone Triennial 2017.

The variety of art works included in the trail was a testimony to the human creative spirit.  It reminded us that like Derek Jarman and the found objects he used in his work, art can be created from what we have around us and becomes bigger than its components, growing beyond our imagining  as others witness it.   

Of course, no visit to the seaside would be complete without a trip to the beach…. 

On the beach
Philip lying on a pebbled Folkestone Beach

But no time for lying down on the job, it was soon time to jump back on the train and head off to Ashford to make our plans for Dungeness (and head to the pub for some much needed refreshments!)

The morning of our trip to Prospect Cottage was blessed with glorious blue skies, sunshine and hardly a breath of wind as we arrived at Dungeness. We were reminded of Derek’s own thoughts on the landscape as we stepped foot on the shingle for the first time: 

“Dungeness, Dungeness, your beauty is the best, forget the hills and valleys. This landscape is like the face you overlook, the face of an angel with a naughty smile.” 

Group outside Prospect Cottage

We would spend most of the day exploring the garden; looking at the plants, the amazing architectural elements and taking in the surrounding landscape. Undertaking this visit together as a group was very special, sharing in each other’s impressions, feelings, and thoughts.  

We are grateful to the Manchester Wellbeing Fund for helping to make our Dungeness visit possible. It was good to be able to travel and spend time together as a group, especially following the prolonged period of social isolation that resulted from the pandemic.  

The culmination, and arguably highlight of the day, was our guided tour of the cottage itself. There is so much to see and experience that we’re going to cover the cottage and garden in more detail in our next blog, but for now, here’s a little taster of our time at Dungeness.. 

Dungeness landscape, an abandoned boat surrounded by plants, coastline visible in the background
Photographs all courtesy of the Derek Jarman Pocket Garden Group.
View of Prospect Cottage
Photographs all courtesy of the Derek Jarman Pocket Garden Group.

– Paul, Hazel & Mindy, members of the Derek Jarman Pocket Park Group


The Derek Jarman Pocket Park is supported by The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Pocket Parks, Pride in Ageing at the LGBT Foundation ManchesterThe IGNITION ProjectRoyal Horticultural SocietyExterior ArchitectureThe Postcode Lottery Trust, Manchester Wellbeing Fund and United Utilities.