The history of our college

Now farming around 2,500 acres in conjunction with several landlords, our outstanding estate has grown to become one of the leading centres for land-based education in the UK.

We now have a dairy herd of 260 cows, 1,000 sheep and 130 sows, in addition to up to 65 horses and a wide range of animals and livestock in our excellent animal care centre. On the horticultural side, our site has been developed to include greenhouses and our excellent practical workshop facilities. One of our most recent exciting additions has been our superb commercial winery – enabling you to study unique courses in first class facilities.

In the mid 1990s, we added a range of higher education courses (Foundation Degrees and BSc). We’re delighted to welcome more than 1200 full-time students plus several thousand part-time students to our excellent range of land-based courses. We also have 120 students living on-site in our fantastic accommodation facilities. 

The College timeline


St. Michael’s Church was built

St. Michael’s Church was built, and the original village of Plumpton was built between the Church and the manor house.

In Saxon times, Plumpton Manor originally belonged to the church of Bosham. The manor house (which has been rebuilt many times) is first mentioned as being lived in from 1118. Plumpton village is rumoured to have been burnt down due to numerous deaths from the plague, and moved to where the village is now. 


New farm

A new farm was created by by The County Agricultural Committee and several other interested parties to serve East and West Sussex – encouraging the production of home-grown food.


Council takes lease

East Sussex County Council took a five-year lease of the 340 acre Wales Farm, Plumpton, from the Chichester Estate.


Freehold purchased

The freehold was purchased. The only farm buildings were the farm house and its set of old buildings, the Flint Cottage on the Offham-Ditchling Road, and the Moat Barn.


First students

The first intake of students was on 18th October and RHB Jesse was the first principal.


Officially opened

The institute was opened by the Minister of Agriculture in July.


College renamed

East Sussex School of Agriculture became the new name for the College.


Building extended

A new extension was officially opened by the Minister of Agriculture, WS Morrison. This included a new lecture room, Principal's room, matron's sitting room, staff room, dining room, locker room and students' sleeping accommodation. 


The war effort

Normal courses were discontinued during the Second World War, and the school was used for short courses to entrants to the Women's Land Army. Much of Wales Farm was used for food production, which included growing Mangold (a type of fodder for livestock), and the Moat Barn area become one of the County War Agricultural Committee's machinery depots.


At the end of the war, responsibility for Plumpton passed from the County Agricultural Committee to the County Education Committee which ran the college until April 1992. 


More accommodation

Middleton Manor, Westmeston, was used to provide additional residential accommodation.


New Principal

RHB Jesse retired and NJD Nickalls was appointed Principal.


A new residential block adjoining the main college building was completed.


A western extension to the main building and the new machinery block were built.


On 1st of January 1967 the name of the school was officially changed to Plumpton Agricultural College.


Extension officially opens

 The western extension was officially opened by Lord De La Warr.

1970's / 1980's

Further growth occurred including several out centres across the County. 


New courses

Courses became more diversified with the introduction of equine and animal management courses, in addition to agricultural mechanisation and horticultural programmes. 


College independence

The College was removed from County Council control and was incorporated under the Further Education Act - becoming independent. 

Mid 1990's

Higher education offered

The addition of higher education courses (Foundation Degrees and BSc), which the College now offers as an Associate College of the University of Brighton. 


New funding

The newly formed Learning and Skills Council became the major funder of college provision.


New centre opened

New Children's Rural Education Centre opened by The Princess Royal, marking the year of Food and Farming.


The Duchess of Cornwall helped to celebrate the opening the new Wine Research Facility.