Time for reflection… looking back at Wasing over the years

Lockdown, brought about by the devastating COVID-19 epidemic, has inevitably given many people a lot of time for reflection. Whether it’s your lifestyle, job, health or relationships with family and friends, we have all had some thinking space in recent months.

The custodian of Wasing, Joshua Dugdale, has been looking back at the development of his family’s estate over the years and sharing some memories from childhood.

Family history

Wasing has been in his family for more than 260 years, since 1759. Originally a traditional country estate, Wasing didn’t become a wedding venue until 2008 and our trio of Old Estate Rooms were finished five years ago in 2015.

The Dovecote, The Granary and The Smithy sit proudly in the centre of Wasing Park, our exclusive-use wedding venue at the heart of the estate. Joshua is extremely proud of the decision to bring these very unique, Grade II Listed, 18th century buildings back to life.

“It was a fantastic decision to bring these rooms back to life. Everyone loves each room – they are completely unique and arguabley make up some of the most interesting bed rooms anywhere. What’s not to like about that! It was also an incredible learning experience about how to be sensitive with old listed buildings, and a journey of discovery of the different techniques required to bring them back to life,” says Joshua, who adds: “The Dovecote in particular is an incredible space, with the ladder for grabbing the dove eggs, still part of the building. We managed to light the dove holes which was particularly ingenious, and put underfloor heating under the brick floor. It’s an incredible experience to sleep in that room, and one that is probably unlike any other.”

The Dovecote

The Dovecote is a circular bedroom suite situated over two floors. Once home to hundreds of doves it’s now enjoyed by wedding guests and corporate visitors.

Joshua continues: “The Granary also is a wonderful space, and has been very sensitively designed. It reminds me of an alpine lodge, something out of Hansel and Gretel. Especially when you poke your head out of the top floor! Who would have thought that just seven years ago it was an agricultural store with the same flooring which must be over 200 years old!”

The Granary

Once an old grain store, The Granary is our fairy-tale suite sitting proudly on its saddle stones with features including a free-standing copper bath and king size bed.

Memories of childhood

Joshua shares some of his childhood memories of the estate.

“I always used to come and visit with my parents from Birmingham once every school holidays. It was quite sleepy but very beautiful. I have wonderful memories of my grandparents, Bill and Nance Mount, and the many fascinating people who worked on the estate, including Paul and Barry Woodley who are still here,” he says, adding: “I remember seeing the whole wedding area, as it is now, as being out of bounds as it had gone to rack and ruin rather. It was a dumping ground for many of the farm and estate paraphernalia, old bits of metal, telegraph poles, bits of concrete, wood stores etc. The Smithy was the ‘men’s bothy’ where the team would retire for their elevenses, lunch and tea.”

The Smithy

Once an old blacksmiths shop and the men’s bothy as told by Joshua above, The Smithy still features the striking old forge fireplace, original wooden beams and window sills and a contemporary seven foot four-poster bed.

The Future

Looking to the future, Joshua still has more plans for the estate.

“We are hoping to be able to bring the produce from our almost organic farm (we are coming to the end of the second year in conversion) direct to the customer, whether that is in the restaurant, the wedding venue, or a possible hotel. Obviously COVID 19 has shaken the hospitality industry up somewhat so the question is how can we best adapt. We think we have a fabulous story to tell, and can’t wait to do so.”

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