Here is just a little info to let you get to know our pub better...
Here is just a little info to let you get to know our pub better...
Here is little potted history of our pub and the local area... if you have a spare minute or two and maybe a cup of tea (or is that a G&T), we think it's well worth read.
The Pack Horse is a former farmhouse on the Mapledurham House estate, dating from the 17th century.
The name 'The Pack Horse' tells a story. Pack horses were used to transport goods to inaccessible locations until the coming of the first turnpike roads and canals in the 1700s, when wagons, coaches and canal boats evolved. Away from main routes however, the use of pack horses, often in large teams, persisted into the 1800s, and has left a history of old paths across more remote areas called pack horse roads.
One characteristic feature of the pack horse roads were guide stones or 'stoops'. These were predecessors to the milestones which featured on turnpike roads. Guide stones were usually located at the junction of several tracks, and were carved with directions to local market towns, sometimes with mileages indicated. The official 'mile' only went onto the statute books in the early 19th century, so the distances found on guide stones are 'customary' miles, often grossly underestimating the true distance. Rather, the stones simply provided an approximate guide, providing the traveller with a rough idea of where they were in relation to the other places listed on the stone.
Ancient pack horse paths can often be identified by distinctive narrow and low sided stone arched pack horse bridges, which can still be found at various locations - along with tell-tale names of public houses which existed to provide rest and refreshment for the carriers. Which is where we came in.
Sitting on the banks of the River Thames, Mapledurham is a quiet, rural village. Although lying quite close to Reading, the only road access is by a steep, narrow lane making the village difficult to reach, which has helped to maintain its unspoilt tranquillity.
Despite its quiet location, Mapledurham has many connections within the world of film and literature, thanks in the main to the exquisite Mapledurham house which lies in the heart of the village, and which remarkably has been owned by the same family for over 500 years.
Poet Alexander Pope was familiar with Mapledurham due to a long time courtship with Martha Blout. The Blouts bought the manor in 1490 and it has been passed through generations ever since. From 1707-1715 Alexander Pope was a frequent visitor to the estate visiting both Martha and her sister Theresa. Pope quarrelled with Theresa in 1716 for unknown reasons but his friendship with Martha lasted until his death in 1744.
Kenneth Grahame, author of Wind in the Willows, lived in Pangbourne, a couple of miles upstream from Mapledurham, and it is believed that Mapledurham House and Mill provided the inspiration for the Wind in the Willows' 'Toad Hall', as well as featuring in EH Shepard's illustrations for the book. It is a stunningly beautiful house, and the similarity of Toad Hall to Mapledurham house is inescapable.
Here is the wonderful description of Mole's first encounter of the river in Wind in the Willows: "He thought his happiness was complete... Never in his life had he seen a river before - this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh... Glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble..."
The nearby Quarry Wood is also thought to be where, in Grahame's charming narrative, Mole gets lost in the storm and is rescued by Ratty - who leads him to the safety of Badger's hidyhole.
In 1976 the famous wartime blockbuster, 'The Eagle Has Landed', starring Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland, Larry Hagman and Robert Duvall, was filmed at Mapledurham, renamed Studley Constable in the film.
Mapledurham Mill leat (the channel carrying water to the mill) is the scene of the dramatic rescue of a local girl by a German paratrooper, which results in the unmasking and ultimate failure of the raid.
If you look closely on a brick wall next to the watermill, you'll find Michael Caine's autograph discreetly etched amongst hundreds of other initials and signatures. The church was the scene for a dramatic shootout, with a jeep being blown up as it enters the church yard, and a cottage in the village was where Larry Hagman met his end.
To add a more contemporary note, Mapledurham Mill is also the backdrop in the image on the cover of Black Sabbath (album), by the band of the same name, lead singer of which is Ozzy Osbourne.
Mapledurham house was also utilised by John Galsworthy for the later chapters of the famous 'Forsyte Saga' trilogy, where it was the weekend country estate of Soames Forsyte.
Sarah was born and bred in Reading but has travelled further afield - but like a boomerang always returns to Berkshire. Having been in the catering industry for most of her life, she has seen it all, done it all and got the T-shirt... and the grey hairs (sorry - stress highlight). She is always keen to 'check out the local competition' although sometimes this is just an excuse to 'check out the wine & Gin'. Sarah is also proud mother to 18 month old Jackson who you'll often find helping her with her gardening and her second love, Bird watching.
Char joins us from a couple of our sister pubs including the Rowbarge, the Pheasant and the White Hart, Chobham. Char is incredibly untidy and forever drives everyone mad for making a mess in the office. She is our paperwork guru - thank goodness she loves it as nobody else does! One day, Char hopes to be running her own B&P pub. Newly promoted to deputy - Char is climbing the ranks fast.
Phoebe's been here the longest, mainly due to our 104 gins that she's still trying to work her way through. Your go to girl for any advice on what gin to try next. She's a keen football player in her spare time and a complete perfectionist when it comes to working the restaurant.
Sean, better known as 'Prawn', is Langos younger brother. If he's not working in the pub, he's probably... erm... in another pub - it's always twelve o'clock somewhere! A keen Reading football team supporter, you'll never find him working when they're playing - watch out for him in the crowd though!!
Matt is the ladies man of the Packhorse - but what more could you expect from a 6ft5 Rugby player? Always up for a giggle at the bar, he keeps our locals in check. Having been family friends with Sean and Tom for years, Matt is already fitting in well in the Packhorse family.
Georgia is our chirpy little newbie. Hoping to get into music university, she's one to watch out for on the big screen. Watch this space; Charlottes working on getting Georgia to perform at one of our events. She loves Gin, so is enjoying working her way through all the fun gins behind the bar.
Oli just can't stay away. Coming and going whilst at Uni in Leeds; you'll find him happy to chat with you at the bar. Oli is a jack of all trades, often also helping out in the kitchen. Rachel; Oli's lovely girlfriend keeps him in check making sure he's working as much as possible to help towards funding their amazing travels.
Cameron is our one of a kind, lovely KP. You'll struggle to get a word in when Cams about but we just like to let him have centre stage, sit back and listen to all of his cracking stories (there's a lot of them). Cam is training hard in the kitchen and has recently mastered the art of cookies, much to the rest of the staffs delight. You'll often see Cam rocking his Hawaiian shorts and shirt combo and propping up the bar with a spiced rum or 3.
Piotr is the longest standing Kitchen employee, the Dad of the kitchen. He's an absolute blessing to have on board and such a team player. Often bringing in treats for the staff such as Polish delicacies for them to try. If he's not working, he'll be propping up the bar with a Lowenbrau (Blue).
After a 35 year career working for various public and utility companies you'd forgive Colin for wanting to take his foot off the pedal and spend time with his long suffering wife June, three children and growing flock of grandchildren. Not so because after sending June around the bend with his endless tinkering in and around his Erlegh home he decided to put his handyman skills to good use and answer our SOS for a skilled practitioner of DIY after James, Tom and Rick's attempts nearly had all four walls of our veritable establishment down. In the year that Colin has been with us he's become a firm part of our happy team, providing the nuts and bolts to help us maintain our fantastic appearance and atmosphere that you all love.
Use the calendar to book a table. If the time you're after is not available, give us a call and we will try our best to fit you in. We keep some tables for phone bookings.
Just as a note, please include children in the number of people you are booking for (whether they need high chairs or not). That way we can be certain we have saved a suitable table for you.
If you have a favourite table, please call to make your booking. Unfortunately we can’t guarantee specific tables when booking through our online calendar.
Finally, we don't reserve any of our outside tables so if you enjoy a little alfresco dining these are first come first serve.
Friday 30th November 2018