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Short courses

Wonderful West Dean

“Fantastic weekend, enjoyed every minute. Teaching excellent. Lots of lovely people on the course. Everyone helping each other. Loved it all. Thanks very much.”

West Dean College is at the heart of the 6,400 acre West Dean Estate in the slopes of the South Downs. Designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it offers a sensational setting for you to spend a day or a week.

10% discount for those new to West Dean bookable by phone only on 01243 818300

Bursaries available for Undergraduates

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Subject Areas


Basketmaking, Chair Seating and Willow Work

Books, Paper and Lettering


Creative Writing

Creative Development


Glass and Mosaics

Jewellery and Enamelling


Music, Performance and Dance

Photography, Film and Animation

Pottery and Ceramics



Woodworking and Furniture Making

More about West Dean

Formerly the home of Edward James, patron of many surrealist artists including Dali and Magritte, the 19th-century flint-faced mansion has, for over 35 years, been home to West Dean College – a centre to study traditional and contemporary arts, crafts, writing, gardening and music.

With its creative educational environment, and the relaxed atmosphere and style of a large country house, West Dean runs short courses throughout the year offering you the chance to escape from the hustle and bustle of your daily life and take advantage of our magnificent setting.

The award-winning West Dean Gardens with its beautifully restored kitchen garden, ornamental gardens, landscaped parkland ensure that you are surrounded by a remarkable setting and range of artefacts, which many of the tutors use as inspiration for your project work.

“West Dean provides the perfect relaxing environment to completely immerse yourself in your chosen activity.”

With over 700 short courses running each year, there are plenty of opportunities to explore new subjects and ideas, develop skills and make practical and beautiful things.

There are courses for all levels of experience covering a vast range of subjects including screenprinting, chair making, Chinese painting, making leather bags, embroidery, silversmithing, creating a kitchen garden, landscape photography, singing, creative writing – with such a wide choice there is bound to be something on offer to entice you.

You can either choose the non-residential option or stay as a resident and take full advantage of all West Dean has to offer.

“Faultless – I only wish hotel staff would be asked to observe here – Everyone deserves a medal. Thank you all so much.”

For those who are staying with us, we have 52 comfortably furnished bedrooms in the main house. Many of these rooms feature antique furniture, private bathrooms and/or views over the surrounding Gardens. A further ten bedrooms are located in The Vicarage, a short walk away from the main house, each with en-suite bathrooms. At Easter and in the summer, additional accommodation is provided in the College annexes, also reached by a short walk through the gardens.

Partners who are not attending courses are welcome to stay at the College, sharing your room on a resident only basis.

“Fantastic tuition, inspiring and informative - but fun! “

All West Dean courses are taught by practising professionals, many of whom are world renowned in their field. Numbers of students on each course is kept deliberately low to ensure that you have the space and time you need in which to develop your skills and knowledge.

“My overall experience of West Dean has been one of amazement at the facilities, efficiency and genuine friendliness of everyone.”

The specialist workshops and studios at West Dean are amongst the best equipped in the UK. We are especially fortunate to count a pottery, forge, fine metals workshop, two first-floor art studios with overhead natural light, the brightly-lit Orangery and sculpture courtyard, a purpose built facility for stone carving and related materials, among our long list of facilities. There is also a Computer Suite and a specialist arts-based Library for you to use.

Lectures, art and music appreciation courses often take place in the grand State Rooms which retain the Edwardian decorations commissioned by the family of our founder, Edward James.

“Staff VERY friendly and helpful. absolutely brilliant . This time was the first and I have already booked the next time- a learning holiday, wonderful. THANK YOU”

Comfortable armchairs and sofas can be found in the Oak Hall and Steward’s Bar – a wonderful place to relax and unwind at the end of the day.

For the more energetic, from May to September, there is a small outdoor swimming pool within the grounds, and croquet and boules sets.

Whatever the season or the time of day, a stroll through the historic and listed 90 acre-West Dean Gardens including a circular 2 ¼ mile walk through the 49-acre St Roche’s arboretum, offers breathtaking views.

“You have an excellent team of chefs. All the food was very well cooked and tasty. I enjoyed all my meals.”

When you attend any course at West Dean, you enjoy lunch in the 120 seat dining room and, in the fine weather, our outside courtyard. For residential students breakfast and dinner are included in the accommodation fee.

The catering team at West Dean pride themselves on creating innovative and constantly changing menus of good home-cooked meals, reflecting the season. Drawing from thousands of recipes they offer hot meals (there’s always a vegetarian option) and puddings, a wide range of salads, fresh fruit and yoghurts.

All of our ingredients are fully traceable, and wherever possible, locally sourced. All bakery products come from a local bakery which often uses flour from the neighbouring Weald and Downland Museum’s organic mill. The West Dean Gardens also provides seasonal fruit and vegetables when available.

"Loved it all!”

How to Find Us

Find us - West Dean aerial view

West Dean College and Gardens are situated in South East England, six miles north of the historic city of Chichester and 12 miles from the south coast.

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Related information

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Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali