Wasing’s Corporate Open Day

Experiential events are key to the future of a 250 year old Berkshire estate

A meeting with the Dalai Lama has had a profound influence on the future of a Berkshire estate, says the owner who outlined his vision for the business that will provide bedrock for generations to come.

Joshua Dugdale, the owner of the Wasing Estate in Aldermaston, was speaking at an open day on Tuesday (23) that marked the completion of a £3 million restoration project of the venue over the last eight years.

Wasing was a traditional country estate; asset rich, cash poor, with overdrafts left right and centre. It occurred to me then, that the most exciting opportunity would be to develop what had been a great learning in India when I was making a film on the Dalai Lama. He conducted a huge brainstorm at a conference which had extraordinary consequences. I realised then the power of events and that is when you throw people together in the right environment amazing things can happen,” says Joshua who represents the seventh generation of his family’s involvement in the estate.

Experiential events now on offer include immersive drumming, bush craft and corporate wellness activities at the estate which caters for meetings and events of all sizes – from a board meeting for 20 to a festival for 20,000 people.

Visitors to the open day took part in a drumming workshop and were treated to a lunch of crayfish sourced from the rivers on the estate, cooked by Peter Mandeno of Wok & Wine. “I help you to meet the people you didn’t know you were looking for,” he says when explaining the concept of his business. “We are moving into experience economy where people are hungry for new experiences and interesting conversations,” adds Peter who served the crayfish on a long table simply with chunks of bread and a glass of white wine.

Drumming Warm up at Wasing Park Berkshire Team building activities

Joshua Dugdale estate owner joining in with the drumming at Wasing Park Berkshire

Drumming by Instant Teamwork

Peter Mandeno of Wok & Wine serving his networking lunch at the Stables Lodge Wasing Park

Peter Mandeno of Wok & Wine

Joshua says now the estate is ready to use for inspiring events his next challenge is to enable them to take place and be as good as they can possibly be.

“Our aim is to enable the networking to be even better, and that means the two elements need to be present. Not only do you need to have a wonderful environment that enables you to relax and be confident with people you may normally be formal with, but you also need to have some form of experiential element which allows you to loosen those bonds with people. In doing so you will enable conversation to flow, friendships to be made, relationships to develop, and opportunities to arise in whatever way possible,” he says.

Also speaking at the open day was Emma Purvis of Secret Productions. “The power of participation is very important, experiences have taught me to overcome my limitations.”

Wasing is an example of a thriving and successful countryside estate that has made investments to ensure a stable business for future generations. More and more young landowners are moving away from the traditional approach and adapting to change in order to survive.

Regional Surveyor for the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), David Hill, says it’s important for estates to diversify. “The profitability of farms up and down the country is under pressure so estates have to look at other forms of income, which is a challenge for many people.”

We are in a good position in this area as we have national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, good transport links and places like Wasing, who are outside the protection areas, can take advantage of their assets.”

The open day, aimed at businesses looking for unique events, also celebrated the opening of three 18th century Old Estate Rooms that have been sensitively restored. The new rooms bring the total on the estate to 26. The Grade II listed buildings include The Dovecote – a circular suite featuring the original brick floor and wooden ladder used for cleaning out the nests; The Smithy with its striking old forge fireplace, wooden beams and window sills; and The Granary where wooden steps lead up to a fairy tale suite which sits proudly on its saddle stones.


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