Members of Midhurst University of the Third Age welcomed Sharon Kusunoki as guest speaker at their August meeting.
Sharon is the archivist at West Dean College and gave an illustrated talk about the life of Edward James.
Edward’s father William bought the West Dean Estate in 1891, but half the acreage had been sold by the time Edward inherited the estate on his father’s death in 1912.
Aged only four when his father died, Edward did not take control of the estate until 1932 when he reached the age of 25.
He refurbished Monkton House on the West Dean estate in the surrealist style, including blueberry-coloured exterior walls and blue serge suit material to cover the library walls.
An aquarium going from the stairs to the first-floor guest bathroom was built with a porthole so he could observe his friends. His bed was modelled after Nelson’s hearse.
In 1964 he gave the West Dean Estate to a charitable trust and in 1971 the Edward James Foundation was set up in response to his vision of ‘establishing an educational foundation where creative talents can be discovered and developed and where one can spread culture through the teaching of crafts and the preservation of knowledge that might otherwise be destroyed or forgotten’.
West Dean College has become a centre for the preservation of traditional arts and crafts through a variety of courses.
Midhurst U3A members meet in small groups to learn about a range of topics from art, craft, genealogy, world religions and architecture to digital photography, computers, poetry, art history and singing. Members run groups in their own homes or meet in larger venues.
They meet on the third Tuesday of each month at 2.30pm in the Midhurst Methodist Church Hall for a talk by an expert. The next meeting is on Tuesday 18th September.
For further information go to www.u3asites.org.uk/midhurst or contact Carole Allan on 01730 813374.