Appeals and Projects

Time and weather are no friend to our historic buildings. Both contribute to timber decay and eventually this puts the structures in danger. We are continuously working hard to preserve these buildings, can you help us save the roof of West Dean House and the remaining 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 Sign a Slate and Roof top tours.

Sign a Slate

Click here to find out how you can be a part of West Dean history for years to come. If you would like to Sign a Slate then please contact Hannah Langley on 01243 818 284 or email

Donate Now

To help save our roof please text ROOF28 £10 to 70070 or click on the donate now button below.

Help save our Victorian Glasshouses

These magnificent Grade II Listed Glasshouses built during the 1890s by Foster and Pearson, were at the forefront of Victorian technology. Today they provide a nursery to almost every plant that makes its way into the gardens and somewhere for you to learn about growing and looking after plants. A precious piece of heritage that is our duty to preserve.

The support you have given over the past few years has been truly incredible. Can you help one last time and give the few remaining glasshouses the love and attention they need? Your donation will preserve a piece of local heritage, bring these glass wonders back to life, and ensure that the full set are restored, marking an end of this vital project.

Preserving our horticultural heritage

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 the first jobs was to restore all 13 glasshouses to full working order. Jim and Sarah have re-created 26 different growing environments within the glasshouses, from traditional figs and melons, to new and exotic red hot chillies.

Giving back to the glasshouses

Thirty years on and the warm and damp conditions created in a glasshouse contribute to its own decay; timber struggles with wet and dry rot, cast iron battles against rust, and glass simply cannot withstand time and weather, causing a continuous cycle of renewal.

With more sophisticated building materials available today, and advances in the development of protective timber treatments and finishes, this time around the restoration should last for 50 years.

During your visits over the last few years, you will have seen work being done on glasshouses throughout the walled garden - with the most urgent ones being prioritised first.

We are delighted to tell you that nine out of the thirteen glasshouses have now been fully restored, and work to the final four is planned for 2019. And we are so grateful for the support you have given along the way. We have £60,000 left to raise to finish this project in its entirety.

An exhibition telling the story of the Victorian glasshouses is on display in the Peach and Tomato house. We hope you are able to come and visit soon and read all about the history of these unique buildings.

If you would like to help save a piece of local heritage then please donate today. Your gift will mark the end of this vital restoration project, saving all 13 Victorian glasshouses.

Thank you for your support

Donate now

Help restore our glasshouses - to donate online please click on the red button below.

"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

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