Save our precious historic buildings

Time and weather are no friend to our historic buildings. Both contribute to timber decay and eventually this puts the structures in danger. Can you help us repair and restore the roof of West Dean House and our precious Victorian glasshouses?

Restoring the roof - securing our future

West Dean House, home to West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, is a Grade II listed building of cultural and historical significance, and is central to the delivery of our world-class education in conservation and the creative arts. It also houses the unique Edward James Collection and Archive that makes our remarkable story and inspires students from all over the world.

We have made a promise to invest in protecting our heritage and the priceless Collection within it. This starts with restoring the 126 year old roof of the House. Over the years the roof has become extremely worn due to time and weather, there are numerous leaks and failed masonry which urgently need repairing. Returning the roof to good condition is vital for the building to survive and ensure students can continue to study here for many years to come.

A History of West Dean House

West Dean manor was noted in the Domesday Book 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 opened in 1971 and now welcomes more than 5,000 students a year on 800 arts and conservation short courses, and 24 degree and diploma programmes.

What are we doing?

This project will repair the leaks and failed masonry at high level. The roof comprises 38 individual sections with work staged across two phases.

Phase 1: Starting at the west end of the house, moving towards the centre, phase 1 involves extensive roof works externally but also to walls and roof timbers.

Phase 2: Working from the centre to the east end of the historic house, stopping at the workshops.

Leave your mark for the next Century…

It will cost £5.8 million to complete this enormous restoration project. Although we are using as much of our own resources as possible, we need your help to reach the total amount and save this precious building.

Please keep an eye on this web page to find out about ways to get involved such as Tag a Tile and Roof top tours.

Donate Now

To help save our roof please text Tile18 £10 to 70070 to donate £10

Preserving our horticultural heritage

Our amazing glasshouses, built during the 1890s by Foster and Pearson, were at the forefront of Victorian technology. They continue to nurture flowers, fruit and vegetables as they have done for 120 years - but now they need your help. The quality of the materials, craftsmanship and the attention to detail (right down to the easy-to-open brass latches designed for hands laden with gardening tools) help to explain why they have survived to this day. It's incredibly rare to have this range of original Victorian glasshouses in operation and as such they are a vital part of our local heritage.

With your help we can raise enough money to bring all our glasshouses back to their former glory and preserve them for another century. Click here to read more about the fascinating history of our glasshouses.

We have been overwhelmed by the support received to help save our glasshouses, the project is progressing very well, huge thanks go to all our donors. Click here for an update on where we are today.

Donate now

Help restore our glasshouses - donate online or text MEND25 and the donation amount to 70070

"Restoration of the Victorian Glasshouses is not simply about aesthetics and keeping up appearances, they are tools essential for the long term health and development of the Gardens. Please help in any way you can."

Toby Buckland, Gardener and TV presenter

Map of the Glasshouses

The complete set of Victorian glasshouses in the Walled Garden.

The story so far

In 1991 our truly dedicated Head Gardeners, husband and wife team, Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain and their team of gardeners, embarked on an amazing journey to rebuild West Dean Gardens. It's been a lifetime's work.

After the Great Storm of 1987, one of their first jobs was to restore the complete set of original Victorian glasshouses to full working order. It's incredibly rare to have this range of glasshouses in operation. But their survival depends on constant support in the fight against the elements.

We launched our first fundraising appeal in 2014 to begin a refurbishment programme of all our glasshouses. We are indebted to those who have already contributed to this appeal and enabled us to restore the Tropical and Temperate and the Display houses in the Walled Garden. In the Spring of 2016 we launched an appeal to restore Glasshouse 24 & 25 - the Fig House, Nectarine and Late Vinery in the orchard.

We have been delighted by the generosity of our wonderful supporters in helping to restore these amazing Victorian glasshouses. Throughout 2016 our specialist works and maintenance team spent tireless months, weeks, days and hours in all temperatures to restore two major glasshouses.

Read the full story here.

Help preserve our future

West Dean is 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