West Dean Gardens, nr Chichester
This arts and crafts-focused college has plenty of short courses plus award-winning gardens to explore. There's also a popular annual Chilli Fiesta.
Explore Victorian glasshouses, a 300 foot Edwardian Pergola, sunken garden, walled kitchen garden and arboretum in the award-winning West Dean Gardens, open to the public from February to December. The garden’s restaurant and shop (accessible without garden entry) has a terrace and overlooks the Lavant Valley and West Dean Park.
Set within the gardens is West Dean College of Arts and Conservation and you don’t need to be undertaking a degree to benefit from study here. There are 800 short courses in arts and craft, conservation and cultural subjects, from one day to a few weeks. These include jewellery making, creative writing, waiting, sculpture and textiles and woodworking – including furniture and even musical instrument making. It could help you create presents around Christmas, kickstart start a new hobby, or even a new career!
Feast on fiery fare at the popular annual family-friendly Chilli Fiesta in the gardens (Fri 9 – Sun 11 Aug in 2019). Besides plenty of opportunities to eat and shop for the hot stuff there’s Latin music and dance and cookery demonstrations, circus workshops and a vintage funfair. You can even camp in the grounds.
Weddings and event hire
With a 19th century flint mansion, besides the wonderful gardens, West Dean is perfect for event hire for weddings and other special occasions, indoors or in a marquee or tipis.
You can also stay over (adults only) at West Dean House or Old Vicarage, when you take a short course, or just fancy a weekend break, exploring the award-winning gardens at your leisure, swimming in the outdoor heated pool (May to Sept). It’s close to Chichester and the horse and motor racing at Goodwood.
West Dean, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 0QZ