West Dean College of Arts and Conservation has an international profile for conservation and arts education. A unique place to study, visit or stay, it is a centre of excellence, creativity and tranquillity. Underpinning it all is the vision of founder and Surrealist patron Edward James, connecting today's students and visitors with a rich heritage of arts, craft and creative possibility. It has one of the greatest restored gardens open to the public in the UK.

Who we are

Exterior of West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation is part of The Edward James Foundation, a registered charity which also comprises West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and West Dean Tapestry Studios.

Our mission is to provide the highest quality education in creative arts and conservation and be internationally recognised as a centre of excellence. Through our work we aim to inspire creativity, champion traditional art and craft practices and advance the care of heritage objects.

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Job vacancies at West Dean College and Gardens

Work for us

Exciting and flexible employment opportunities, excellent employee benefits, a rich creative heritage and beautiful surroundings make West Dean College of Arts and Conservation and West Dean Gardens an inspiring place to work. If you feel you meet the person specification for any of our vacancies, we would love to hear from you.

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Filming at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

Our media office connects journalists, television producers and bloggers to news and developments about conservation and creative arts projects, research, events, garden news and more.

We offer many opportunities for film production companies.

"Thanks so much for everyone's effort to make our filming possible... excellent organisation before and on the day... we all considered the West Dean shoot a high point of the series so far. It was particularly great to be able get the shoot done on time and not leave people standing around for too long." BBC Two Producer

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The West Dean Estate

The Estate that includes West Dean College and West Dean Gardens is situated a few miles north of Chichester on the western South Downs, stretching 6 miles (9 kilometres) from the southern shallow 'dip' slope to the northern steep 'scarp' slope.

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History and Edward James

Drawing of West Dean House in West Sussex

West Dean is mentioned in the Domesday book and the Earls of Arundel and Dukes of Norfolk held the land for almost 500 years before it passed into various ownerships. In 1891 the James family acquired the estate and architects Ernest George and Harold Peto were tasked with making substantial changes to both the exterior and interior of the house. Find out more about the history of West Dean House, home to West Dean College of Arts and Conservation.

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Support Us

West Dean College was founded thanks to the vision of an extraordinary man, Edward James, who was passionate about teaching traditional heritage and craft skills.

Today we run a world class education programme thanks to the continuing vision of many extraordinary and talented tutors, crafts people and supporters of our work.

If you share our passion for historic conservation and the arts, and for our tranquil and inspiring gardens and grounds, please become more involved.

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50 years championing arts, craft, and conservation

West Dean College opened in 1971 and this year sees us celebrate our 50th anniversary with a year-long of celebration from October 2021 - September 2022, featuring special short courses, events and exhibitions. 

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Help preserve our future

West Dean College and Gardens are part of a registered charity and relies on the support of generous donors, friends, legacies to help us deliver world-class education in conservation and the creative arts and maintain our award-winning gardens.

Find out how you can help support us