Meet the Team – Rachel Usher, Cowdray’s Wellbeing Manager

“Cowdray Hall and Therapy Rooms are a busy hub of activity.  It’s a place where you can come to step aside from the challenges of daily life, take time to deepen your connection with yourself, your community and the wider world.”

Meet the Team – Rachel Usher, Cowdray’s Wellbeing Manager.

1.  Describe your job as Cowdray’s Wellbeing Manager?

I am the main point of contact for Cowdray Hall and Cowdray’s Therapy Rooms.  The Hall offers a broad variety of emotional and spiritual workshops, retreats, events and weekly classes.  There are three rooms; the Chapel, the Meeting Room and the Main Hall, all of which are available to hire for a multitude of wellbeing orientated classes.

The Therapy Rooms consist of the three beautifully appointed rooms which are also available to hire.  All rooms are ideal for conventional and alternative therapies and therapists such as physiotherapists, nutritional therapists, osteopaths, psychotherapists, acupuncturists and more all practice here.

The Hall and Therapy Rooms are a busy hub of activity, and I am primarily in charge of overseeing and developing this wellbeing focussed community from taking the initial enquiry, arranging viewings and bookings through to supporting the therapists or teacher to achieve their aspirations.  I also ensure that the Hall and Therapy Rooms are fully functioning to a high standard reflective of the Cowdray brand.

I also oversee the Cowdray Staff Wellbeing Programme which includes weekly circuit training, Pilates classes and monthly massages, all of which are free of charge to Estate employees.

2.  You have been instrumental in developing Cowdray Hall and the Therapy Rooms as a business. Can you describe how it has grown and changed over the years?

Wellbeing has always been integral to Cowdray’s ethos and values.  It has been championed on the Estate for many years and is very much directed by Lord and Lady Cowdray’s advocacy of such lifestyle choices.

At Cowdray Hall, the business has grown from one which ran just a few classes a week to one which has more than 20 regular weekly classes with something happening most weekends. The Therapy Rooms are thriving with a constant flow of clients seeking treatments.

During the pandemic, I set up a successful Cowdray Virtual Wellbeing Programme comprising online classes and talks designed to help people connect and not feel isolated during this challenging time.

3. What skills do you have that make you suited to the role?

Being organised is an essential skill in this role and probably the most important.  With so many teachers, classes, therapists and events taking place it’s like a giant jigsaw that never gets finished!  No two days are ever the same.  My role also calls for such skills such as empathy, intuition, and good communication.


4. What first attracted you to work at Cowdray?

I started working at Cowdray Ruins in 2008 in an administrative role after responding to an advert in the Midhurst & Petworth Observer. I have lived in Midhurst since the early 1990s, moving to Stedham with my husband Dave, so I have always been very familiar with Cowdray and have enjoyed watching weekend polo on the Estate for the past 30 years.

5. Can you tell us about the talks that are taking place at Cowdray Hall?

Following the success of the Virtual Wellbeing Programme, we are creating a series of engaging talks and events at Cowdray Hall. The aim of this initiative is to give the local community an opportunity to attend educational and informative events and at the same time showcase Cowdray Hall as a venue.

In April, British astronaut Tim Peake, gave a fascinating talk about his experiences of space. He talked about how an astronaut manages their workload whilst on board the International Space Station and how they deal with and prepare for intense periods of isolation.  In March, we also held a talk by the popular author Viv Groskop who wrote: ‘How to own the Room’. There will be a Forest Bathing event in July which consists of consciously connecting with the environment and absorbing the atmosphere of the forest, followed by a fascinating talk and foraging workshop in the Autumn teaching us all about the world of fungi.


6. You will be celebrating International Yoga Day on June 21st – can you tell us a bit more about it?

I am organising a Summer Solstice Evening in celebration of International Yoga Day on Tuesday 21st June. The event begins at 6pm and will be a unique opportunity to experience an uplifting yoga session followed by a therapeutic sound bath set in the beautiful surroundings of Ambersham polo fields.

I was keen to organise another International Yoga Day event at Cowdray following the success of the one we held in June 2019.  Ticket numbers are limited for this year’s Summer Solstice event. To find out more or to book tickets,  click here.


7. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I love swimming and swim three or four times a week. I also enjoy dog walking as well as socialising with friends and family.


8. If you could only choose one thing to buy from Cowdray Farm Shop or Cowdray Living, what would it be?

Definitely the Cowdray Celebration Diffusers – I put them in Cowdray Hall and the Therapy Rooms, and just love their smell.


9. Where is your favourite place to go on holiday?

Aitutaki in the Cook Islands. We had the most amazing holiday there and I would return in a heartbeat – it’s an island paradise in the South Pacific.


10. What means the most to you?

My family. My husband and I have a 15-year-old daughter and a well-loved Spaniel called Patch.


11. What can’t you live without?

Cups of tea!


Written by Matilda Reid. 

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