Press Release: West Dean College of Arts and Conservation wins Sussex Heritage Trust Award 2020

- Awarded for a project which provides or improves facilities for the community - 

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation are very pleased to announce that they have won the 2020 Public and Community Award as part of the Sussex Heritage Trust Awards 2020 for the restoration of the College’s 126-year-old roof. Taking almost two years to complete, the project repaired the numerous leaks, rotten roof timbers and failed masonry of the 39 individual sections using 26,000 Welsh slate tiles to the highest standards, ensuring the building can continue to provide world-class education for future generations.

As Alexander Barron, Chief Executive, West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, explains: “At the heart of West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, and central to the student experience and delivery of our courses, is West Dean House. This Grade II* listed building is of cultural and historical significance and it is also home to the unique Collection and Archive that illustrate the remarkable story of our founder, Edward James. All this continues to inspire students from across the globe to choose West Dean College.”

He continues: “We are delighted that our most extensive and challenging conservation project of recent years has returned the 126-year-old-roof of the College to the very best condition, so enabling us to protect, nurture and inspire students for the next 100 years!”

Costing £5.8 million, the work, which was carried out by Architect Jane Jones-Warner Associates LLP, Chichester and specialist contractor Clarke Roofing Southern Ltd required a temporary roof with an independent scaffold design to span the building without taking any load off the existing structure. It was one of the largest, free-standing scaffolds in the UK at the time.

The project offered the opportunity to engage with students and the College community on elements of historic building conservation, Clarke Roofing Southern Ltd provided site tours for more than 200 people to view and discuss the works at roof level, and guided trainee architects to help them understand natural slate, ventilation requirements and lead carbonation. This included College students and participants on Building Conservation Masterclasses, some of who were learning natural slate work as part of their course. West Dean College of Arts and Conservation in West Sussex, has been running internationally respected Building Conservation Masterclasses in conjunction with Historic England since 1999. Students come from across the UK and further afield for a range of two and three day courses taught by experts from across the sector, students include architects, surveyors, engineers, stonemasons, carpenters, bricklayers, conservators and graduates. 

Simon Knight DL, Chairman of the Sussex Heritage Trust, said: “The Sussex Heritage Trust were delighted to have awarded one of their  hand-crafted slate plaques to West Dean College of Arts and Conservation.  The roof restoration project was commented on by our judging teams as a “superb restoration of an historic building using traditional materials with excellent detailing and craftmanship.”

The building was first noted in the Domesday Book as West Dean manor and two windows remain from the Jacobean manor house of 1603. The House you see today was mostly built from 1804-30. Later additions by Edward James’ family, such as the enlarged entrance portico, followed from 1892. West Dean College of Arts and Conservation opened in 1971 and is now internationally recognised for excellence in conservation and arts education. Study options include over 300 arts, craft and conservation short courses as well as degree and diploma level study accredited by the University of Sussex, including Conservation Studies, Fine Art and Creative Writing and Publishing. To find out more visit

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Notes to Editors:

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation is an educational charity whose mission is to provide the highest quality education in arts and conservation. Alongside the academic provision, the College supports an annual programme of residencies designed to provide research and development opportunities to artists and writers whilst enhancing the learning environment of the College. West Dean College of Arts and Conservation was founded in 1971 by the poet and Surrealist patron, Edward James, recognised by BBC Arts as the ‘the greatest patron of art of the early 20th century’. The College is part of The Edward James Foundation (Charity No. 1126084), also comprising West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and West Dean Tapestry Studio. All photography is free to use for editorial purposes. West Dean College is situated on the A286, six miles north of Chichester and within easy access of Portsmouth, Guildford, Brighton and London. 

For all media enquiries please contact Rachel Aked:
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 07790 732448

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 OQZ