Press Release: 2017 at a glance, the annual programme at West Dean

West Dean College and award-winning Gardens offer a full programme for 2017 including events and activities for artists, craft makers, festival-goers, gardeners and music lovers. Learn new creative skills on a short course, enjoy live classical music concerts, tour the Grade II* Listed house, dance to live Latin music and learn how to grow and cook with chillies at the annual summer Chilli Fiesta, and much more to ensure you have an inspirational year, whatever your interests. NEW for 2017 are a series of Literary Salons and partner events, including two art exhibitions. A major exhibition Artists and Their Makers and the bi-annual Tapestry Symposium 2017 together focus on the collaboration between the originating artists and the highly skilled craft of the Master Weavers at West Dean who interpret their work. The West Dean Arts & Craft Festival will take the former Design and Craft Fair (which attracted 5,000 visitors last year) to an exciting new level and this year incorporates the annual House Opening.



Partner event: a major NEW exhibition Sussex Modernism, Retreat and Rebellion, Two Temple Place, London (28 January - 23rd April).


The gardens re-open after the winter closure with stunning displays of snowdrops (Friday 3 February). West Dean Gardens supports the annual National Gardens Scheme Snowdrop Festival, helping raise money for a variety of charities (Sunday 5 February, 9.00am - 4pm).

NEW Literary Salon Series. Writer Melissa Benn will be interviewed by Lesley Thomson, Associate Tutor, MA Creative Writing and Publishing (Tuesday 14 February, 7.30pm to 9.30pm).

NEW Artist's Talk by painter, Yelena Popova (Wednesday 15 February, 5.30pm to 7pm). Free but booking is essential email [email protected].


NEW Artists' Talks. Sussex Modernism: Retreat and Rebellion by Dr Hope Wolf, lecturer in British Modernist Literature and co-Director of the Centre for Modernist Studies, University of Sussex, and curator of Sussex Modernism, Retreat and Rebellion (Wednesday 1 March, 5.30pm to 7pm, free). Booking is essential email [email protected].

NEW Literary Salon Series. Authors Stephen May and Martine McDonagh in discussion on the subject The Family is a Loaded Gun in fiction (Tuesday 21 March, 7.30pm to 9.30pm).

Mother's Day in the Gardens (Sunday 26 March 9am - 5.00pm). Tickets Adult Standard entry price. Children go free all year-round. FREE entry for mums and includes a complimentary bunch of daffodils. A Hello Spring! unlimited gardens pass (£17 Adult) from 1 March to 31 May and valid for six weeks from the date of purchase. Visit just twice and the pass will pay for itself.


Artists Meet their Makers a NEW exhibition highlighting West Dean Tapestry Studio's portfolio of work with leading contemporary artists. The Crafts Study Centre, University for Creative Arts, Farnham (4 April to 1 July).

Easter Trail around the award-winning gardens and craft activities for children (13 - 17 April 9am - 5.00pm last entry 4pm).

NEW Literary Salon Series. Joanna Moorhead, award-winning freelance journalist will talk about her new biography of artist Leonora Carrington. Archive materials relating to Leonora Carrington from the Edward James Collection will be on display (Tuesday 18 April, 7.30pm to 9.30pm).

West Dean Tapestry Studio Symposium 2017 Contemporary Art and Tapestry - Artists Meet Their Maker (19 April).


NEW Artist's Talks. British artist, Becky Beasley (Wednesday 10 May, 5.30pm to 7pm) and Lothar Götz (Wednesday 24 May, 5.30pm to 7pm). Free but booking is essential email [email protected].


Arts and Craft Festival incorporating the Annual House Opening (2 - 4 June 10am to 5pm). An outstanding showcase of arts and craft activities which takes the former Design and Craft Fair to a new creative level.

Pergola Theatre Week. New Theatre Productions' summer programme in the Edwardian Pergola at the award-winning West Dean Gardens (26 June to 8 July, no performance on Sunday 2 July). The Gardens Restaurant is open on performance evenings for a pre-theatre supper until 7.15pm and picnics can be pre-ordered.


Visual Arts and Crafts Summer Schools. A creative and social highlight of the year offering a range of week-long courses. Week One (July 29 - 4 August).

Chilingirian String Ensemble Summer School for amateur, young professional or student quartets or ensembles. Generous scholarships are available. (12 - 16 July, £506 (non-resident), intermediate/advanced).

Concert by the Chilingirian Quartet: Mozart 'The Hunt', K458; Elgar Quartet; Beethoven Op 18 No 6 (Saturday 18 July, 8pm, £15).

NEW Lessons from the landscape. James and Helen Basson, RHS award-winning landscape designers, will talk about creating beautiful, low-maintenance, dry gardens that mix contemporary with traditional skills. (23 July, Garden Lecture, 9.30am to 3pm, £73 including gardens entry and lunch).


Visual Arts and Craft Summer Schools. Week Two (5 - 11 August) and Week Three (12 - 18 August).

West Dean Gardens' award-winning Chilli Fiesta (11 - 13 August, 10am - 10.30pm on Saturday, 10am to 9.30pm Friday and Sunday). Early Bird tickets offer 20% discount on sale at

NEW Some like it hot and some don't - selecting the right plants for your garden with Rosy Hardy, plantswoman, nursery owner and 21 times RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gold medal winner (19 August, Garden Lecture, £73, including gardens entry and lunch).

INTERNATIONAL CLASSICAL GUITAR FESTIVAL (19 - 22 August, £525) including a programme of recitals and concerts.

Tapas Evenings in the licensed Gardens Restaurant (25 and 26 August).


Spooky Halloween half term activities in the award-winning gardens (25 - 29 October 10.30am to 4.30pm).


Father Christmas Visits at West Dean Gardens (9 - 10 and 16 & 17 December).

For further information on all events and to book tickets visit


Notes to editors

  • West Dean College is part of The Edward James Foundation, a charitable trust, also comprising West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and the West Dean Tapestry Studio. Charity No. 1126084.
  • All photography is free to use for editorial purposes.

Media Contact Information

For further information, high-resolution digital images of filming opportunities contact

Irene Caswell, Senior Media Officer, +44 (0)1243 811301


West Dean College, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 OQZ