The year ahead at West Dean

Lambs at West Dean, photo by Judi Lion
Lambs at West Dean, photo by Judi Lion

An exciting programme of events for 2014 has been announced by West Dean.

The events offer something for artists, art and craft fans, festival-goers, food fans, gardeners and music-lovers.

“For everyone who enjoys outdoor events, trying new things, learning new skills and meeting new people, there is something to tempt the beginner and the more experienced,” said a West Dean spokeswoman.

“You can learn exciting new skills on a short course, dance to Latin music at the biggest Chilli Fiesta in the UK, enjoy an outdoor theatre performance, taste new foods and pick up expert gardening tips at Grow! Cook! Eat! and much more to ensure you have a wonderful year, whatever your interests.”

With beautiful gardens, a house packed to the rafters with surrealist art and a successful college, West Dean is not your average country estate.

Edward James inherited the estate in 1912, aged just four years.

A lifelong supporter of the arts, Edward was a close friend of Salvador Dali. The pair worked together on the iconic Mae West lips sofa, which can be viewed at the house on open days.

In 1964, he conveyed the house and 6,000-acre estate to his charitable trust – the Edward James Foundation and, in 1971, West Dean College was opened.

Today, students and teachers and all involved with the estate are still as passionate about traditional workmanship and the arts as Edward was.

Here is a quick month-by-month glance at some of the highlights of this year’s programme:


Sunday, March 30, Mothering Sunday Gardens Open Day, 10.30am-5pm – half-price entry, £4 for adults, including a free bunch of daffodils for mothers, children go free.


Friday, April 11, to Sunday, April 13, First Fictions creative writing weekend – for more information and to book

Saturday, April 12, Garden Talk, Keeping Hens in the Garden, by Charlotte Popescu – tickets £25.

Wednesday, April 16, to Sunday, April 20, Easter Egg Hunts around the Gardens for children, 10.30am-5pm – price £3 per child including a chocolate egg. Normal adult entry prices apply. Last entry 4pm.

Saturday, April 26, Garden Talk, The art of creative pruning: cloud pruning and organic topiary, by Jake Hobson – £25.


Friday, May 2, to Monday, May 5, Humble Materials short course theme weekend – prices from £225.

Starting Saturday, May 3, until October 21, short course taster days – prices start from £92.


Friday, June 13, The Pleasure Principle – gardening with Edward James, 8pm – tickets £15.

Friday, June 13, to Sunday, June 15, Mexican Weekend short course themed weekend – prices from £220.

Saturday, June 14, Garden Lecture, Clever with Clematis, with Marcus Dancer – tickets £69.

Saturday, June 28, Garden Lecture, The beauty of old roses, with Charles Quest-Ritson, 9.45am-3pm, – tickets £69.


First two weeks of July, the Pergola Open Air Theatre’s, by New Theatre Productions, 35th amateur season. Summer Day’s Dream, JB Priestley’s romantic fantasy on the Sussex Downs, directed by John Hyatt, June 28 and 30, and July 2, 4, 8, 10 July. The Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare’s hilarious tale of double identities, directed by Richard Kinder, July 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11. Tickets, priced £10, available at the gate on the night or from Festival of Chichester box office. All performances start at 7.45pm. Entrance through the college gates. Picnics welcome.

Wednesday, July 2, ChamberStudio Mentorship Ensembles: Bernadel quartet, the Busch Ensemble, Ruisi Quartet, in the Old Library, 8pm – tickets £8.

Monday, July 7, to Friday, July 11, West Dean Visual Art Students’ Summer Show at the Old Dairy Studios at West Dean and London show at the Embassy Tea Gallery, London.

Sunday, July 20, to Saturday, July 26, the Chilingirian Quartet Summer School for string quartets and ensembles – £639.

Tuesday, July 22, the Chilingirian Quartet in Concert, in the Old Library, 8pm – tickets £15.

Wednesday, July 23, Public Masterclass with the Chilingirian Quartet, in the Old Library, 2pm – tickets £8.

Thursday, July 24, The Chilingirian Quartet in Concert, in the Old Library, 8pm – tickets £15.

Friday, July 25, Students’ Showcase Concert, in the Old Library, 8pm – tickets £6.

Saturday, July 26, Students’ Informal Concert, in the Old Library, 2pm – tickets £6.

Saturday, July 26, to Friday, August 1, Summer School Week One.


Saturday, August 2, to Friday, August 8, Summer School Week Two.

Friday, August 8, to Sunday, August 10, Chilli Fiesta.

Saturday, August 9, to Friday, August 15, Summer School Week Three.

Saturday, August 16, to Wednesday, August 20, International Guitar Festival and Summer School, sponsored by Classical Guitar Magazine and D’Addario, West Dean College and St Andrew’s Church, West Dean. Saturday, August 16, concert by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, 8pm – tickets £15. Sunday, August 17, Guitar Open Day, 11.30am to 7pm – tickets £10. Monday, August 18, concert by Antigoni Goni, 8pm – tickets £12. Tuesday, August 19, concert by Craig Ogden, 8pm – tickets £12. Wednesday, August 20, concert by Primavera Chamber Ensemble with guest artist Cobie Smit, 8pm, tickets – £12. Special offer season ticket – entry for all four guitar concerts and the guitar open day £50.


Saturday, September 6, to Sunday, September 7, West Dean House Opening.

Thursday, September 18, British cheeses – train your tastebuds, food tasting with Rosemary Moon, West Dean Gardens Restaurant, 7.30pm – tickets £15.

Friday, September 19, to Sunday, September 21, Monochrome Weekend short course themed weekend – tickets from £213.

Friday, September 19, to Sunday, September 21, Crime writing, creative writing weekend with Lesley Thomson, Elizabeth Haynes and Elly Griffiths – tickets £213.

Saturday, September 27, recital of music for violin and piano 2014 with Roy Stratford (piano) and Oliver Nelson (violin), the Old Library, 8pm – tickets £10.

Saturday, September 27, Designing Gardens for a Naturalistic Effect, Garden Lecture with Keith Wiley – tickets £69.


Saturday, October 4, to Sunday, October 5, Grow! Cook! Eat!

Sunday, October 26, The New English Garden, Garden Talk with Tim Richardson – tickets £25.

Monday, October 27, to Friday, October 31, Spooky Halloween activities in the gardens.


For more information on all events, visit or call 01243 811301.