By Philippa and James D’Arcy, owners, Wickham House
Wickham House opened for business as a high-end out of town events venue in October 2015, and whie we were lucky enough to secure some business early on, we only really started to make a play for the corporate market in Spring once we confirmed fibre optic connectivity to the property. This gave us up to 200 mbps fixed line connectivity and WiFi speeds of around 40 mbps, something we believe is essential when attracting corporate event managers to a country estate setting.
In our first year, we’ve succeeded in hosting events for a number of blue chip brands such as Vodafone and Microsoft and one of the UK’s top law firms, Irwin Mitchell. A high-profile, global pharmaceutical company has also recently visited Wickham House and seems intent on holding an event here shortly…watch this space.
So what have we got that is attracting such attention? Well, the Barn is very special. It is a beautiful space – well designed, full of features and stylish. It seats 24 at one long table, with comfy seating around a big log fire and a great bar area. The space is flexible and we have cleverly mapped out a variety of layouts to cater for a range of uses. Microsoft’s management team loved its informality, and were keen to have their delegates not at a table, but rather seated comfortably around the fire on a combination of sofas, chairs and beanbags!
In the summer months, Wickham offers a two-site venue with the Barn as the working base and drinks, light bites and meals all possible to enjoy at the Pavilion in the Walled Garden. This space is a heavenly enclosed area, overflowing with flowers and aromas set around a sunken lawn and a stunning pool. It offers ideal breakout areas, where delegates can either continue working in smaller groups or simply relax and enjoy a range of outside catering options prepared in the onsite kitchens, and wind down with a cocktail at the end of the day. Vodafone took full advantage of both sites, and some even took to the tennis court in their free time.
The stunning grounds are used for all sorts of team building and entertaining activities, and to this end Wickham House has developed relationships with a number of Family Fun Day and Team Building companies, including Atelier des Chefs for cooking activities. Developmental workshops with Mark Katz of Poisson Rouge are going to be launched next year, a development we are tremendously excited about.
While Wickham House doesn’t offer accommodation on site, we have a seamless relationship with the 5* The Vineyard Hotel, located just three miles away, where we can book our clients in at a preferential rate. Shuttling between the two locations is part of the service.
In the last few weeks, a number of top agents have visited Wickham and given it their endorsement with a number keen to introduce their clients – senior off-sites and board meetings for professional services firms seemed to be a favourite. Much interest was also shown on behalf of luxury car companies, who are animated at the idea of showcasing their cars against such a stunning backdrop. We’re looking forward to a bigger and better second year hosting delegates from the MICE sector in our private and unique setting that offers so very much.