APPLE enthusiasts of all ages turned out in their thousands over the weekend to enjoy the autumn sunshine at West Dean.
Visitors to the Apple Affair were also able to explore the elaborately dressed state rooms of West Dean College, which hosted a surrealist art exhibition put on by West Dean’s art students.
Pop-up stalls covered the lower gardens, selling everything from fresh produce to chutneys, and there were plenty of apple-oriented games on offer from West Dean Primary School.
Peter and Nikki Hall, from Ferring, said: “What a lovely day! The apple stalls are fantastic and although we come to a lot of West Dean events, it is great to actually get a look inside the college as well. It’s really interesting.”
Apple cooking demonstrations were soundtracked by live folk music, and West Dean’s famous greenhouses were open to the public with the opportunity to pick, mix and purchase every variety of apple.
Emma Stuart, from Midhurst, said: “We are having a great time looking at all the apple varieties in the gardens and greenhouses, and we are very impressed with the house and grounds because it is our first time visiting. The view is incredible.”
Not only were there apple trees for sale and advice from experts about the optimum conditions for every variety, there were pork and apple sausages ready to devour, and West Dean even had their own apple doctor on site – to help those who were struggling to grow healthy fruit.
Children were invited to get creative at the Big Draw competition, run by independent charity Campaign for Drawing, which aims to raise the profile of drawing as a tool for thought and creativity.
Derek Brock, a volunteer for the Edward James Foundation and West Dean house and gardens, said: “I have been volunteering in the grounds at West Dean for 12 years, and every time I see it open on a day like this I realise how lucky the visitors are if they are seeing the fantastic events, stall and the views for the first time.”
Apple lovers were able to explore the beautifully-kept apple orchards on specially scheduled tours, and families managed to enjoy the sunshine for their last picnics of the year.