About Us

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

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.

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.

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


Front of house

Sarah Livesey

Manager

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.

Lizzie

Deputy Manager

Old punters of the pub might recognise Lizzie as an old assistant manager, who after a few years hiatus at some other restaurants, she's back at the Horse. Lizzie or L-dog as most know her, works hard but plays harder. Lizzie returns a Mum to little Evie who keeps her busy on her days off. It's a pleasure to have you back Liz.

Willow Davis

Supervisor

As her first job, Willow balanced work and college life with ease and has fun whilst doing it. Just don't ask her to do any maths. There's not much Willow loves more than a cute dog so you'll catch her cuddling all the pups down at the bar so don't forget to bring yours down.

Stan

Supervisor

Stan, or Stanley if he's in trouble, joined us back in December and since then has quickly stepped up to the role of 'Head Barman'. Towering at 6ft4 you can't miss him and with big shoes, requires a big personality and he certainly has both.

Georgia Snarey

Bar/Waiting Staff

Georgia is our 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

Bar/Waiting Staff

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 is currently studying Economics at UCL.

Jack Lockhart

Bar/Waiting Staff

Jack 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!

Becky

Bar/Waiting Staff

Becky joins us when she's back from studying hard at Uni. 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!

Ruby Golledge

Bar/Waiting Staff

Known for her sweet nature and for always wearing a smile, Ruby joins us inbetween stints studying animation at the University of Bristol. 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!

Max

Bar/Waiting Staff

Max is our friendly barman, working for us when he is not studying Fine Art at Liverpool John Moores. Joining us along 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 loves a Packhorse night on the town!

Courtney Grimshaw

Bar/Waiting Staff

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.

Mike

Bar/Waiting Staff

Mike fell in love with the Packhorse when he joined us on a couple of our famous dog walks over the years. After leaving tailoring job, he worked weekends on our bar. Now, he works at a magazine company, but still joins us for the odd Sunday session. We are glad as he is certainly a friendly face on the team! Outside of work, Mike enjoys cycling and walking his lovely dog Ralph the Vizla.

Arthur Langeler

Bar/Waiting Staff

Arthur is our bilingual treasure. He moved to England 5 years ago from Holland and is already fluent. If he's not teaching the staff Dutch, he'll be practicing his bar skills.

Douglas Jones

Bar/Waiting Staff

Doug joined us as a food runner a year ago and has since become a crucial member of the team. Doug has really come out of his shell since joining and his witty comments often have the staff in fits of laughter. He often talks about being CEO of the company in no time- watch this space...

Jack Harvey

Bar/Waiting Staff

Jack or 'Weave' as his friends at Abingdon called him is the brother of Topknot - do we sense some more sibling rivalry? Weave is studying History at Bristol university but you'll find him back behind the bar during his holidays.

Joshua Jenkins

Bar/Waiting Staff

JJ loves Anime and all things oriental, he's currently planning a massive Japanese tattoo. Avid Reading FC fan, you'll often find him checking the football scores.

Fergus Mander

Bar/Waiting Staff

Fergus or Fergoose, joined us as a part time front of house member and full time Legend. Brother of Max, he's held his own and branched out to possibly be the better Mander... a family debate we're not willing to get involved in.

Fern Wilson

Bar/Waiting Staff

Fern is our bright little cookie, currently studying at Kendrick. She's joined recently as a food runner but she's itching to get front of house to serve all of our lovely customers. Watch this space!

Gareth Woodwards

Bar/Waiting Staff

Gareth joins us after leaving an office job. He needed something more social and the Packhorse seems to be the perfect place for him. If Gareth isn't behind the bar he'll be fixing up cars with his friend, Reece or drinking Rum.


Kitchen

George Solcan

Head Chef

George is our fantastic Head Chef. After working for 7 years as a Head Chef at Browns he's flown the nest and joined us here at the Packhorse. George has lots of fun new ideas for both our Menu and the pub and we're all very excited. Watch this space!

Ferdinand David

Sous Chef

Have you ever seen such a happy man? He's not only the life and soul of our kitchen but of our pub too. Ferdinand has many years of chef experience under his belt and we can't wait to see some of his dishes on our menu.

Cameron Bown

Chef

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.

Sacha Findon

Chef de Partie

Sacha is our 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)!

Charlie Lethbridge

Kitchen Porter

This is Charlie's first job since turning 18. He's got a lovely, friendly, bubbly personality which helps keep the rest of the kitchen tickety - boo! Charlie want's to continue to progress in the kitchen and loves everything food.

Mark Caddy

Kitchen Porter

Mark is the prankster of the kitchen, always catching both the chefs and front of house team out with his cheeky antics. You wont meet a kinder soul on your travels - he's an absolutely brilliant addition to the team, always keeping everyone laughing.

Eleonora Stoian

Kitchen Assistant

The sweetest woman in the world.


Maintenance

Colin Millikin

Gardener/Maintenance Person

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.