Bedroom number 43

I’ve been teaching down in West Dean for eight years now and I usually go down four or five times a year, so I reckon I must have stayed at West Dean College about forty times. That mean I’ve potentially stayed in about half the bedrooms that are available to guests.

But I’ve never stayed in such a nice bedroom as the one I’ve just slept in for the past couple of nights at West Dean while teaching my Intricate Surfaces weekend course there!



The college is based in a beautiful country home in the heart of the South Downs, once owned by Edward James, a patron of the Surrealists. The house is steeped in history and the whole estate has a unique charm with various outbuildings dotted around the grounds that provide extra accommodation for visitors. However the bedrooms of the original house are by far the most magnificent, and I suspect that they are reserved for students rather than tutors.

And I was lucky enough to stay in one of these grand bedrooms this weekend – bedroom number 43 – which was found beyond the library and up a splendid staircase hung with scroll-framed portraits. The twin room was decorated with beautiful handpainted murals all the way around the room, and generously proportioned furniture. The 1930s fireplace and traditional fittings gave me the idea that the interior of this bedroom must have been designed in Edward James’s era.

But I got even more of a lovely surprise when I climbed the short staircase to the ensuite bathroom. Entering the bathroom through a fabulous curved door, I was excited to try out what must have been original fittings. There was no plug, but instead a separate tap control which one lifted and turned to plug the pipes, plus instructions for any bemused users. And I couldn’t wait to try out the traditional footed bath – it was wonderfully deep and spacious, and proportioned so well to accommodate shoulders underwater as well as a comfortable dip to rest the head …quite different from the modern take on the claw-footed baths.

I find it amazing to think how many times I’ve been to West Dean and yet find there are still undiscovered spaces to explore. Might there be an even better bedroom than number 43?!

One thought on “Bedroom number 43

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *