CHRISTMAS cheer was in evidence at West Dean College this weekend (December 14 and 15), as a winter wonderland drew in the crowds.
People came from far and wide as the college opened its doors, allowing visitors a chance to drink mulled wine by a roaring fire, listen to a choir singing carols, have a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, go on a carousel and do a spot of Christmas shopping. “It’s lovely, said Josie Button,” who had come from Norfolk and was with her grand-daughter Olivia Meecham.
“My daughter used to work here and we come here quite a lot for a lot of the events. It’s a really Christmassy spirit.”
She said she had enjoyed sitting by the fire inside the main building listening to the choir.
“It makes you feel like you don’t want to leave,” she added.
Husband and wife David and Frances Holley had come from Winchester after seeing the event advertised.
“A friend of ours told me about West Dean,” said Frances, adding she liked the stalls and it was not as crowded as the huge market in Winchester.
David praised the kitchen gardens.
“It’s wonderful even though it’s mid-winter. That’s worth saying. You can go into the greenhouses and look at the orchids.
“It’s extraordinary at this time of year.”
Closer to home, Reg and Chris Evans had popped up the A286 from Lavant for the festivities.
“It’s very good actually,” said Reg, praising the location.
“You couldn’t wish for anything better.”
He said there was a lot to bring people to the area for Christmas. As well as West Dean there was the market in Chichester city centre, which finished today (December 15).
“When you think about it, they have the one in Chichester as well. That obviously draws people into Chichester. From a resident’s point of view we’re quite lucky down here,” he said.
The West Dean choir was led by 20-year-old Fraser Duncumb, who studies musical instrument making.
The seven singers on Saturday sung carols such as God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, O Come All Ye Faithful and Silent Night.
“It’s gone really well,” he said. “I’m really pleased with how everyone’s done – everyone was in good voice. I’m really happy it couldn’t have gone better.”
See Thursday’s Observer for a picture spread (December 19).