Foster & Pearson, Beeston - Surviving Buildings at West Dean Gardens

Greenhouses at West Dean

A beautifully restored range of Foster & Pearson greenhouses and cold frames at West Dean Gardens, near Goodwood, West Sussex
These magnificent buildings were installed originally, in the 1890s, by William Dodge James who acquired West Dean house and estate in 1891 and used his inherited wealth to alter and extend the house and to develop the gardens - to include a 300-foot-long pergola as well as the greenhouses.
The Prince of Wales and his Marlborough House set were amongst those who attended lavish house parties there and shoots on the West Dean Estate

The house and estate were inherited by Edward, his only son, in 1912 while only a child. In 1956 the house became Wispers School, an independent boarding School for girls and, in 1964, James gave the house to the Edward James Foundation, a charitable, educational trust which supports and teaches artists and craftsman. West Dean College was established in 1971.

Greenhouse and frames

There are 13 Foster & Pearson greenhouses and three cold frames, all of which were beautifully and fully restored in the early 1900s after becoming derelict over the years. They are now repainted on a four-year cycle and hand scrubbed, top to bottom, inside and out, each year. Despite this they are now beginning to show the need for refurbishment for which contributions are invited on the West Dean website. They are constantly in use for fruit growing - including figs, Muscat grapes and early strawberries - as well as temperate and tropical floral displays such as orchids, auriculas lilies, etc.

Greenhouse Interior

The fully restored interior of the greenhouses retain the original Foster & Pearson ironwork.

F&P plaque

The Foster & Pearson nameplate still survives.

Photographs kindly supplied by Keith McGraw, who recently retired and moved from Wollaton to the south of England after 17 years as a Senior Lecturer in Engineering at Nottingham Trent University, which followed ten years as a Development Engineer with TI Raleigh and Sturmey Archer.

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