West Dean apple event is the pick of the bunch

One of the State Rooms in the house, which will be open to the public this weekend
One of the State Rooms in the house, which will be open to the public this weekend
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Visitors can see a display of more than 100 varieties of apples grown in the Victorian walled kitchen garden during West Dean Gardens’ Apple Affair, taking place this weekend.

You are also invited to take a peek inside the glorious flint-faced mansion near Chichester (which is only open to the public once a year) and be guided around the State Rooms which are dressed with a slightly surreal theme.

There'll be all sorts of apples at Apple Affair

There'll be all sorts of apples at Apple Affair

There will be an exhibition showing the work of four artists – Marco Sanges (photographer), Corrie Nielsen (fashion designer), Timur D’Vatz (painter) and Emma Dexter (sculptor).

At West Dean’s Apple Affair you can discover and taste apples of every shape and size. Bring along apples from your own garden to be identified by one of the apple experts or, if your apples aren’t doing so well, bring an apple and a bit of the branch for the apple doctors to examine.

Rosemary Moon, writer, chef and creator of an online cookery website, MoonBites, will also be demonstrating her favourite apple recipes.

It’s a good year for apples, especially the Cox variety. John Nash, former fruit farmer and president of the West Sussex Fruit Group explains: ‘It has been an ideal year for Cox apples because of the cooler temperatures. We’ve had a good hard, cold winter with few warm periods.

‘The warm spells we have had in June enabled productive pollination which is good for cell division of fruit which makes for great apples. Expect apples that are tastier and bigger, the cooler nights also aid in bringing on a better colour.’

The Apple Affair is a family event for all ages, with stallholders offering an array of apple-based foods and drinks to taste and buy, as well as activities for children including a bouncy castle, lots of apple-related games and the ever popular Big Draw drawing competition.

The Big Draw aims to bring communities together in fun, creative ways. More than 1,500 venues take part every year, from nursery schools to national museums.

This year at West Dean’s Big Draw Competition, the artist-in-residence will be West Dean’s visual arts post-graduate student Richard Barnes and there will be four age groups: up to six years, seven to 11 years, 12 to 16 years, and 16 years and over. Entries can be submitted at West Dean House over this weekend and winners will be notified by October 7.

Inside West Dean House, which was once home to Edward James and is now a college specialising in all aspects of arts, crafts and conservation, visitors will be able to see the three state rooms: the Old Dining Room, the Music Room and the Old Library.

All are furnished with art and antiques. Guests can also learn more about the history of the house and the people who have lived there.

Admission to the Apple Affair is £8 for adults, £4 for children, £7.50 for OAPS and £20 for a family ticket (two adults and two children under the age of 15).

The event is open between 10.30am and 5pm tomorrow and Sunday. Last entry for the house is 4.30pm. No dogs are allowed in the event or grounds during the Apple Affair, except assistance dogs. For more information, see westdean.org.uk