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 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.
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 is often referred to as 'boss boss' and has been ruling the roost for more than 10 years now. When she's not making sure everything is running smoothly- she is running around after her rascal son Jackson, and preparing for her future baby boy (due in the New Year!). Sarah is a keen wine and gin connoisseur and an avid nature lover who is often seen making friends with the Packhorse Kites.
Char is a well known face in the company having joined us from a few sister pubs including the Rowbarge, the Pheasant and the White Hart, Chobham. She is the office and paperwork guru who loves to train and see her staff move up the ranks. The ultimate social bunny, Char is always the one to initiate a staff night out and is always the last one standing. A fiend for Pepsi Max, you can often follow her footsteps throughout the pub by the empty bottles and glasses. She is our paperwork guru - thank goodness she loves it as nobody else does! Char is looking forward to running the pub when Sarah goes on maternity leave but she will miss her greatly.
Trainee Assistant Manager
Tom, or 'Lango' as we now all know him has just been promoted to assistant manager after lots of hard work. If he's not pottering behind the bar, then he is propping it up with a Guinness in hand. Always keeping the staff giggling, Lango is known for his one liners and his happy go lucky personality- just don't get in his way when he sees a dog!
Phoebe, 'Panda', 'P' or 'PPP' is Lango's better half and helps us keep him in check here at the pub. Panda is known for busting moves on the staff nights out- if she can make it past 1am (22 is old you know!) and being a serious white wine fanatic, although she is often found with Lango on their days off in a fancy cocktail bar. A lover of organisation and cleanliness, you will find one or two of her posters around the pub, giving Front of House a gentle push in the right direction. Currently training to move up the ranks and becoming Char's right hand woman; she's definitely one to watch.
Tom is often referred to as Dawson due to our ever expanding members of staff named Tom. Tom is working with us whilst waiting to do a post grad degree in medicine. He's a lovely chirpy chap and always up for a chat at the bar. A keen drinker of ales, Lango often finds himself referring to Dawson for help with choosing the new beers.
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!!
Alice joins us part time when she's not working as a Transport Planner. She enjoys sports, especially playing netball and running, and is even training for a few half marathons. This makes sense as she is always whizzing around our restaurant. Outside of work she loves gin and prosecco- especially together!
Georgia is our new bubbly blonde barmaid. Previously a hairdresser, she can chat to you for hours, as well as give you any hair related tips (much to the pleasure of the female staff members). A new mum to the gorgeous Mason-Ray, Georgia has been able to practice her telling off skills with our cheeky locals
Topknot Tom, named after his hairstyle, is another rugby playing barman (which is always a plus when it comes to keg lifting). Although a heavyweight flanker on the pitch, he's still a lightweight when it comes to a night out! Practice makes perfect! Tom hopes to go to uni in September to study Economics
Jack is a fun new addition to the team who joins us from a year out of university. He gets on well with the staff and locals and puts up with teasing about his hair- did someone say mullet? In his spare time, Jack enjoys sports especially tennis and golf, as well as art and drawing. He also loves going to the pub which is probably why he has fit in so well here! Jack hopes to go back to university in Newcastle for September.
Becky has joined us for a weekend job whilst she is in Sixth Form. She has already started to eye up our gin collection as she loves pink gin and lemonade! In her spare time (if she gets any!) she enjoys horse riding and has been learning for the last eight years! In September, Becky plans to go to Cardiff to study history and then to start globe trotting- but hopefully she'll still be up for a Sunday shift!
Matt is joining us while studying Business at college. He is a massive Manchester United fan- much to the delight of Lango and the despair of the rest of the team. He is also a car and motorbike fanatic and loves to discuss all things fast whilst propping up the bar with a beer. In the future Matt wants to go into recruitment or digital marketing and then one day own his own business. (Watch out! He may be filling Sarah's shoe's one day!)
You can hear her dirty laugh throughout Maple Durham! A shift is always fun when Janice is on the bar. Working Wednesday and Friday evenings, she always has the staff and customers in stitches. Distinguishable by her bright red hair, but she certainly doesn't have the temperament with that. Janice is a real asset to our team and is our little ray of sunshine
Known for her sweet nature and for always wearing a smile, Ruby joins us whilst she waits to study animation at the University of Bristol next year. A keen dog-lover and owner of a fab four legged friend, we are planning to recruit her to help lead our monthly dog walks! Outside of work Ruby spends her time surfing when weather permits and shopping when it doesn't!
Hollie is our little blonde pocket rocket. Coming from another pub, she was fast to pick up the Packhorse way and can be counted on to help make everything run smoothly! Friendly, chatty and outgoing- Hollie has already become a firm favourite of both staff and customers. It's just a shame that she's only part time!
Max is our friendly new barman, working for us when he is not studying Fine Art at Liverpool John Moores. Joining us belong side his good friend Hollie, he has learnt all the tricks of the trade and always serves a perfect pint! Max fits in well with the crew- especially with his funky fashion sense. He has told us that he loves going out, so we are looking forward to his first Packhorse night on the town!
Luke is here part time when he's not working for an internet provider company. He is confident, friendly and funny- three things that have served him well and made him a top member of staff. At the moment Luke is saving up for a wedding with his gorgeous fiancee Savanagh and we wish them all the luck in the world for the future!
The 'beta' half of the Wilkinson brothers, Charlie has taken on his role as barman fantastically and settled in with our Packhorse family well. On his days off Charlie works out at the gym and plays scrum half on the rugby pitch. If that isn't sporty enough for you, he has also recently cycled to Paris for charity! Charlie's voice is often heard echoing through the bar as he cracks jokes left, right and centre with the lads and flirts with the girls (what a ladies man!). We will greatly miss him when he goes back to studying Economics at the University of Cardiff and will look forward to his return. Charlie has also asked us to mention that he is the tallest member of staff (at 5'9...)
Courtney is an accumulation of both beauty and brains, as during the day she works as a nutritional scientist! Joining us part time, Courtney has already made a splash in the team, and is always up for a night out (even on a weekday!). The staff voted her as 'Most Likely To Do A Bushtucker Trial' as she owns a pet tarantula and often takes selfies with him on her face! After a long shift, Courtney likes to chill out with a gin and tonic or a glass of red by our fireplace.
When Nick joined us in October, he certainly wasn't an unfamiliar face. Having known Lango, Prawn, Bex and Panda from other walks of life, unsurprisingly he settled in fantastically well. Nick is a laid back and funny lad, who loves a night out, festival or attending the annual Henley Regatta. He has recently graduated from UWE in Bristol and looks to return to west in the future (after a spot of travelling that is).
Dan has joined us from a year out at Bournemouth University where he is studying Media Production. He is our go-to man of anything sports related, having a passion for playing football as well as learning about the technical ins and outs. Find him serving behind our bar or enjoying a beer on the other side and ask him about his sporting achievements and we are sure he would love to chat! Dan also works as a video analyst for Staines Town Football Club and hopes to continue in that career in the future.
Chef de Partie
Alina is our lovely new CDP, joining Sam behind the pass. She is a crazy cookie but all the staff love having her in the kitchen as she is always making them giggle! She adores cats- and can't wait to adopt a kitten soon. Alina joins us on high recommendation from George from a previous kitchen in which they worked together and we can't wait to see what fun ideas she comes up with!
Chef de Partie
Sacha is our new lively CDP, full of life and can make even a Monday morning seem like a manic Friday night! Previously working in another pub, she has become a larger than life member of staff with her funny stories and quick comebacks. Sacha loves festivals and DJs, travelling throughout the country to make sure she attends the best events. If you see her, make sure to ask to see photos of Delilah, her frug (french bulldog and pug cross)!
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.
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.
Michael joins Colin in looking after the grounds. Often found enjoying a natter and a cuppa with Colin whilst discussing fun new ideas for the pub. The most loyal of our customers; he's often dining here with his wife on his days off.
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.
10am, Saturday 23rd November 2019