The owner of an Aldermaston estate revealed last week how a £3m restoration project – and a life changing meeting with the Dalai Lama – has shaped his future plans for the historic venue.
An open day last Tuesday, hosted by Wasing estate owner, Joshua Dugdale, marked the completion of an eight-year project, where he revealed a move away from a traditional approach to managing estates.
“Wasing was a traditional country estate; asset rich, cash poor, with overdrafts left right and centre,” said Mr Dugdale, who represents the seventh generation of his family’s involvement in the estate.
He said: “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.”
He consequentially decided to offer alternative events, including immersive drumming, bush craft and corporate wellness activities at the estate, which caters for various events – from a board meeting for 20, to festivals for up to 20,000 people.
Regional surveyor for the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), David Hill, said it was important for estates to diversify and continued:
He said: “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.”
Open day visitors 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.
The open day also celebrated the opening of three, 18th- century rooms that have been sensitively restored, bring the estate’s total number of rooms to 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, including old forge fireplace and wooden beams and window sills, and The Granary.