Welcome to West Dean Parish Council

The civil parish of West Dean includes the settlements of West Dean, Chilgrove and Binderton. It is situated in the Lavant Valley, approximately five miles north-east of Chichester in West Sussex, reached from the A286 and B2141. The area of the Parish is around 6,136 acres, with a population in 2011 of 481.

The Parish Council was established under the Local Government Act 1894. Although there have been many changes over the years, we are here, as the third tier of Local Government and closest to the community, to work on your behalf. We welcome your comments and suggestions, whether by talking to your nine local councillors or the Clerk, by email, telephone, or by speaking during the public session at our meetings. All meetings are open to the public, when time is set aside to listen to local residents.

West Dean Parish Council meets every other month, in January, March, May, July, September and November. All meetings take place on Wednesday evenings at West Dean College at 7.30pm, with the exception of the Annual Parish Meeting for electors which starts at 7pm. The Annual General Meeting, which marks the beginning of each new council year, is at the beginning of May. Elections are held every four years and advertised in advance with the last election taking place in 2023.

The Parish Council owns the large West Dean Cemetery, immediately south of the A286. It can be reached through the Listed Grade II Lychgate in Cemetery Lane, or the large gate next to The Selsey Arms. The Cemetery is open for burials and interment of ashes.

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West Dean stands wholly in the South Downs National Park. The village is on the Monarch’s Way long-distance footpath, which runs 615 miles from Worcester to Shoreham-by-Sea, being roughly the path taken by King Charles II after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester. The route through the Parish passes from Stoughton Down, across the A286 and River Lavant, then climbs to the Trundle at the top of St Roche’s Hill to Goodwood Racecourse.

West Dean is also very close to the South Downs Way and stands at the end of the five mile long Centurion Way, which starts at the southern end of Westgate in Chichester (near Bishop Luffa School), with many interim access points and interesting sculptures along the way. The route connects with the South Coast Cycle Route at Fishbourne.

Kingley Vale stands at the edge of the Parish, renowned for its yew trees, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a National Nature Reserve, with Bronze Age and Roman earthworks and many other interesting features.

The Saxon Parish Church of St. Andrew stands adjacent to West Dean College, which like most of the cottages in the village, is built of flint with brick quoins.

West Dean CE Primary School is led by Mr Chris Williams, Headteacher. This very thriving local school has been awarded “Outstanding” by Ofsted and is at the heart of the community.

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.

West Dean Gardens is one of the greatest restored gardens open to the public in the UK.  The restoration of the garden to get it to its current state began after the storm of 1987. Since then, a bold re-development programme designed to bring the nineteenth century gardens into the twenty-first century was carried out.  Visitors can escape to a beautifully rejuvenated historic garden rich in creative and social heritage, exploring the extensive grounds on a gentle walk or venturing further to the unique arboretum. Features include the 13 restored Victorian Glasshouses, the Walled Kitchen Garden of classic Victorian design, 100m-long Edwardian Pergola designed by Harold Peto, the naturalistic Spring Garden, the award-winning Sunken Garden and the orchards. 

Covering 6,400 acres 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 and sitting entirely within the South Downs National Park.  The Estate contains a variety of habitats. Houses, barns, workshops, studios, sheds, garden and Park walls, church and churchyard all provide urban habitat. Freshwater habitat varies during the year since the River Lavant which flows through West Dean is a winterbourne, typically flowing during the winter months only and drying out each summer. A few small ponds dotted around the Estate and a relatively new wildlife pond within West Dean Gardens provide year round freshwater habitat. Woodland habitat is varied, with scrub, coppice, coppice-with standards, yew, yew and ash woodlands, mixed broadleaf and conifer, pure conifer and high forest beech all occurring.