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About Us

Here is just a little info to let you get to know our pub better...

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History

Here is a 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 a read.

Read on...

The Leather Bottle dates from a time before glass was widely available, when leather was frequently used as a storage vessel for liquids. In the days when the pub first opened its doors, a leather bottle hanging outside a pub as a sign would advertise the availability of refills of ale or wine inside. This was before the majority of people could read, of course, so written signs wouldn't have been very helpful.

Leather bottles were found on Henry VIII's ship the Mary Rose, and were once common containers for wine and beer. They weren't bottle-shaped necessarily - some were a simple tube of leather with the ends stitched up leaving enough of a seam to attach a shoulder strap, others were flask-shaped, and still others were somewhat dumpy flagons. The insides were treated with black pitch to keep them waterproof, and some had beautifully embossed coverings.

Queen Anne had just died when the pub opened to serve travellers on the road from Reading to Southampton, and of course the local people. It was known as the "White Lion" in 1714 and later as "the Bottle", with Bottle Lane and Bottle Field nearby. In 1800 the landlord of the Bottle was Richard Halfacre, who kept it until 1818. By 1857 it was called the Leather Bottle when it had a landlady, Frances Berry.

Highway Robbery

The pub we see now was originally three cottages on the Reading Road which became increasingly important as a main route when it became a Toll Road. This whole area benefitted from the passing trade of coaches heading for Basingstoke, which in turn attracted Highway Robbers. Bagshot was a notorious centre for systematic robbery, and a number of colourful characters frequented the coach houses and inns in search of victims.

One such was William Davis the "Golden Farmer", who led a double life, one as a successful and respectable Corn Merchant, the other as a highwayman. He gained his moniker from his habit of only stealing gold coins: it is said he often let his victims keep their jewels and other valuables so as to avoid the possibility of his ill-gotten gains being traced. Initially operating alone, Davies became a master of disguise and, at one time, robbed his own landlord of the annual rent money just collected from him. The Golden Farmer was finally hung in chains at Tyburn in 1670.

Colonel Blood

Colonel Blood was another extraordinary local character, who almost succeeded in stealing the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London in 1671. Under the disguise of 'Parson Blood', he had befriended the keeper of the crown jewels, Talbot Edwards, and one day arrived at the Tower with his nephew and two other men under the pretence of introducing his nephew to Edwards' daughter.

While the 'nephew' was getting to know Edward's daughter, the others in the party asked if they might view the Crown Jewels. Edwards led the way downstairs and unlocked the door to the room where they were kept. At that moment Blood knocked him unconscious with a mallet and stabbed him with a sword

The grille was removed from in front of the jewels and the crown, orb and sceptre were taken out. The crown was flattened with the mallet and stuffed into a bag, and the orb stuffed down Blood's breeches. The sceptre was too long to go into the bag so Blood's brother-in-law Hunt tried to saw it in half.

At that point Edwards regained consciousness and raised the alarm. Blood and his accomplices dropped the sceptre and attempted to get away but Blood was arrested as he tried to leave the Tower by the Iron-Gate, after unsuccessfully trying to shoot one of the guards. In custody Blood refused to answer questions, instead repeating stubbornly, "I'll answer to none but the King himself".

Blood knew that the King had a reputation for liking bold scoundrels and reckoned that his considerable Irish charm would save his neck as it had done several times before in his life. Blood was taken to the Palace where he was questioned by King Charles, Prince Rupert, The Duke of York and other members of the royal family. King Charles was amused at Blood's audacity when Blood told him that the Crown Jewels were not worth the £100,000 they were valued at, but only £6,000.

The King asked Blood "What if I should give you your life?" and Blood replied humbly, "I would endeavour to deserve it, Sire!"

Blood was not only pardoned, to the disgust of Lord Ormonde, but was given Irish lands worth £500 a year. Blood became a familiar figure around London and made frequent appearances at Court

The Church at Mattingley

The Churchyard was licensed in 1425, and the first church or chapel on the present site was probably built towards the end of the l4th century. It is one of the most beautiful churches in England: it is fully half-timbered, and the bricks which are made as parallelograms and not oblongs seem to have been designed specifically for herringbone work and may well have been "burnt" on Hazeley Heath.

The Church has no patron saint - possibly because the original building on the site was, to start with, a moot hall - that is, a place where meetings were held. On the other hand it may have been because it had been, in the early days, a "chapel of ease" to the Parish Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Heckfield.

The parish of Mattingley enjoys a traditional rural way of life, the essence of which is of quietness and peacefulness. Historically, this area has always enjoyed tranquillity and has mainly been involved in farming and farming support. Manufacturing has for several hundreds of years centred around brickmaking, but this died out in the 1930s.

Stratfield Saye House

At the north end of the village can be found the main entrance to Stratfield Saye House, the home of the Dukes of Wellington, and there are several local farms belonging to the duke along with his country park and lake. South east of the London Lodges can be found the monument erected in 1866 in memory of the Duke of Wellington.

Up until the end of the 18th Century there was a fair at the end of July each year in Mattingley which attracted people from the towns around and fairground performers from across the south of England. The Parish Council meetings were held in the bar of the Leather Bottle at one time, and in Victorian times a Friendly Society met in the Inn, to which villages could regularly pay a few pence so that they could draw on the Society if they were out of work, or to pay for a decent funeral.

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If you'd like to put a name to a face, allow us to introduce you to some of the crew...


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Front of house

Gary Davis

Manager

Gary, our General Manager, has been in the industry for 24 years which includes his time as a Chef for 12 of those years (even spending time working on a French Ski Resort). He joined the Leather Bottle team in August 2018, and quickly settled into the B&P way of life. Gary is a new Dad to Daughter, Ophelia, and can usually be found enjoying a glass of Whisky - particularly a Yamazaki 12 Year Old Single Malt...when he is not working of course!

Tom Oakes

Assistant Manager

Tom has been a part of the Leather Bottle team since January 2018, joining aa our Assistant Manager and bringing with him a wealth of knowledge and experience. Tom has recently completed the WSET Level 2 course (Wine & Spirit Education), and passed with flying colours achieving a well deserved Distinction! He is a big fan of a loud, colourful shirt and can generally be found in the kitchen trying to learn Slovakian from the Chefs.

Sandra Bartosova

Supervisor

Sandra is currently pursuing her dream of becoming a Nurse for the NHS. However, having been a full-time part of the team for over 2 years, she is still on hand to assist with either Front of House duties or behind the scenes as a Chef on a regular basis. Sandra moved over to the UK from Slovakia approximately 3 years ago, and has become a popular and integral member of the team ever since.

Abigail Webb

Bar/Waiting Staff

Abby joined the team at the Leather Bottle in 2011 with experience in various different pub restaurants. She has two young boys at home to keep her on her toes, but still manages to serve with a smile at the Leather Bottle a few evenings a week.

Carol Pollard

Bar/Waiting Staff

Carol is a proud Grandmother, and often thought of as the Mum of the Leather Bottle family. Carol has been a member of the team since November 2014, working during the week behind the bar as well as being our residential florist. In her spare time she is an avid runner, and is regularly training for a Race or Marathon of some kind.

Ellen

Bar/Waiting Staff

Ellen joined us a while back now, and is most definitely part of the furniture! Whilst enjoying the newly married life, Ellen is also a keen gardener & looks after our flowers for us too!

Debbie West

Bar/Waiting Staff

Debbie is one of our longest standing members, working during the week usually within the restaurant. Debbie is a busy lady, juggling her shifts at the pub with running her own gardening company, as well as looking after her two daughters and dog! With her experience in gardening, she can also be found tending to the flowers alongside Carol, keeping the pub looking lovely.

Julia

Bar/Waiting Staff

Julia is one busy bee! Besides serving our lovely customers, Julia is also a full time PA, and manages to squeeze in being a Bikini Fitness model in her 'spare' time (whenever that may be!).

Will Darwent

Bar/Waiting Staff

Will is one of our longest serving members of staff and currently studying Geography at Queen Mary's University, London. When Will is working, he can usually be found behind the bar. He is a keen footballer, and also has a passion for travel having visited approximately 45 countries.

Ben Elliott

Bar/Waiting Staff

Ben has been a member of the team on and off for approximately 4 years, supporting himself throughout his studies at University. He is currently a proud student at the University of Reading; working towards his Masters Degree in Business Management. Commonly, he will be found behind the bar, and when he is not working he will be enjoying a glass of his namesake - Benjamin Malbec.

Ellie Dunn

Bar/Waiting Staff

Ellie is our baby of the Leather Bottle family, and works some evenings as well as weekends whilst at College. She is studying Public Services in the hope to one day become a Policewoman. Although Ellie may be the youngest, this by no means she is the quietest!

Amy Hazelwood

Bar/Waiting Staff

Amy joined the team in October 2018, having obtained a degree in Event Management at the University of Greenwich; followed by a 5 year stint working at and managing a small team in a large, local Hotel & Conference Venue. Amy is now one of the Front of House Supervisors at the Leather Bottle, and hopes to bring some organisation to the male management team (and believe us, they need it!) as well as being our Social Media guru.

Tom Bury-Lewis

Bar/Waiting Staff

Tom, has joined us as a part-time Bar and Waiting member of staff. Having approximately 15 years experience in the hospitality industry, we think he is going fit in very quickly here at the Leather Bottle especially as he is partial to a Gin & Tonic!

Amy West

Bar/Waiting Staff

Amy is the most colourful and eccentric member of the Leather Bottle team, with her main passion in life being Fashion. Since finishing Uni, Amy works freelance as well as designing and producing her own jewellery and clothing. When she isn't dancing around and bringing in a lot of fun to the pub, she can be found either enjoying a glass of Milford Point Sauvignon Blanc or at various weekend markets selling her handmade goods!



Kitchen

Stano Soroka

Head Chef

Stano, our Head Chef has been a part of the kitchen team since 2016 after moving from Slovakia and working as a Chef in various other establishments. He loves working with food, and experimenting with new dishes. In his spare time, he is an Ice Hockey and UFC fan as well as enjoying a Camden Hells or Jack Daniels.

Mike Busa

Sous Chef

Mike is one of our Sous Chefs in the kitchen having been a part of the team for approximately 4 years. When he isn't in the kitchen, he enjoys a Jack Daniels, watching films and keeping fit by using his home gym or running.

Milan Haring

Senior Chef de Partie

Milan is possibly the most laid back, and cheeriest member of the kitchen team, always keeping everyone laughing. He tends to spend most of the summer months on holiday or attending various festivals. Milan also likes to keep active vy playing various sports such as badminton and football.

Miro Simo

Chef de Partie

Another one of the Chefs within the kitchen team is Miro, who also goes by the name Yoshi (no-one is really sure why!). He has worked in various other places as a Chef before settling at the Leather Bottle at the beginning of the year. In his spare time, he enjoys playing video games with his brother and partying.

Vasi Stamatescu

Kitchen Porter

Vasi is a well liked and vital part of the team at the Leather Bottle having been with us since May 2017. She works exceptionally hard to keep the pub looking spotless as our cleaner and keeping the kitchen ticking over as one of the Kitchen Porters. When Vasi isn't at work she likes to spend time with her husband, two daughters and pets!

Saskia Bartosova

Kitchen Porter

Having only moved to the UK from Slovakia just over a year ago to join her sister Sandra, Saskia immediately become part of the team as a Kitchen Porter while working her way up and learning the ropes as a Chef. Saskia is a massive fan of dogs, playing football or zumba.

Zdenko Danas

Kitchen Porter

Zdenko is one of the newest members of the kitchen team having joined his brother Miro a few months ago. As primarily a kitchen porter, he can be a whizz in the kitchen keeping up with the vast amount of dirty dishes! All the while, keeping a smile on his face and being a bit of a wind-up merchant to his brother which definitely keeps everyone else amused. Zdenko also enjoys playing video games when he is not busy at work.



Maintenance

Martin Hadley

Handyperson

Martin, is our resident Handyman at the Leather Bottle and although commonly makes himself scarce before the pub starts to fill up with our lunchtime visitors, he is a vital part of the team keeping the pub ticking over nicely. Having worked long shift hours for many years, Martin is now making the most of his spare afternoons and weekends, spending the time with family and in particular his new Grandson, Tommy.


Book online

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.

We don't reserve any of our outside tables so if you enjoy a little alfresco dining these are first come first serve.

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Upcoming event

Meet the Distiller with Winchester Distillery

Thursday 7th November 2019

Click for more info

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