James was one of the most imaginative patrons of the arts, not just in the UK, but in various places all around the world. His vision and money ensured that West Dean is home to a world class centre of traditional skills and heritage.
Edward James inherited West Dean House from his father – who had made a large fortune in the American railroad expansion. Edward James, in turn, bequeathed the West Dean Estate to a trust with a view to making it a centre for the arts and crafts.
Today West Dean College is renowned as the provider of a large range of specialist skills training in crafts like musical instrument making, furniture making and so on.
The College itself is set in lovely grounds and West Dean Gardens are regularly open to the public. The Gardens are also the venue for regular food shows based around one particular food (think Absolutely Apples, or Totally Tomatoes) which are good fun and very popular.
The rest of the West Dean village is small but attractive. There’s a very nice walk from the village pond along the wall of the West Dean Estate up to the top of the Trundle and back.
It is also possible to walk or cycle to West Dean from Chichester along Centurion Way – a good use for the disused Midhurst Railway route, which passes through West Dean village.
West Dean hotels, B and B, camping and holiday lets
- Bognor Regis
- Burgess Hill
- East Grinstead
- Haywards Heath
- West Lavant
- East Dean
- Goodwood Revival Meeting
- The Trundle