About Us

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

Charlotte Moore

Acting Manager

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. Char is looking forward to running the pub when Sarah goes on maternity leave but she will miss her greatly.

Emily Geater

Trainee Assistant Manager

Where do we even start, Emily has been with us 3 years whilst studying at University. Newly graduated she's back with us and moving up the management ranks as quickly as she possibly can. If you're ever feeling tired or down, just spend some time with Emily, her energy and fantastic singing skills would lift even the gloomiest of moods. Watch this space, she's full of fantastic ideas you'll see gracing the pub very soon.

Lizzie

Assistant 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.

Alice Connolly

Bar/Waiting Staff

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 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

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!

Janice

Bar/Waiting Staff

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

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!

Hollie Swanborough

Bar/Waiting Staff

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

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!

Lauren Tily

Bar/Waiting Staff

Lauren has not only a passion for the pub but for gym as well. If she's not deadlifting she'll be getting up her step count running around the restaurant looking after all of our lovely customers.

Charlie Wilkinson

Bar/Waiting Staff

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 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.

Chloe Wylie

Bar/Waiting Staff

Chloe is our local treasure. Having worked in plenty of pubs in the area she often knows the locals and will make sure to keep them happy. Chloe has a serious addiction to Diet Coke, you'll never find her without.

Daniel Bell

Bar/Waiting Staff

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.

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.

Stan

Bar/Waiting Staff

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.

Harry Leach

Bar/Waiting Staff

Harry came to work with us part time after his best friend Georgia recommend us. He has settled in fantastically and already is a familiar face on the other side (the best side that is) of the bar, and on a Packhorse night out. Harry also works at a site that makes safety features for planes- we know!! Outside of work, Harry loves motorbikes and used to partake in motorcross sporting (and we are sure he still has the scars!)

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.

TP

Bar/Waiting Staff

Tom jumped straight into the Packhorse life and it feels like he's been here forever, maybe because he is always here. If TP isn't working you'll find him in the bar doing some bar quality control. TP is pretty adventurous, and we are sure theres very little he hasn't done. Just don't ask to see his tattoos!

Leah Morgan

Bar/Waiting Staff

Leah is the smiley one! Always looking after the rest of the team and our lovely customers. But don't let the smile fool you, she's also the sassiest. She works for the NHS but didn't want to hang up her Packhorse boots just yet so she still works with us every weekend. If not working, she'll often be found in the bar with a Pink Gin.

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.

Miles Rudgley

Bar/Waiting Staff

Miles graduated from Leeds University with a degree in Microbiology but he's traded microscopes for pulling pints. If Miles was a member of the 7 dwarfs, he'd definitely be Mr Sleepy - Miles has a bad reputation for napping.

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.

Hannah Townend

Bar/Waiting Staff

From Singapore to the Packhorse, Hannahs one interesting girl. Not only did she live in Singapore for 9 years, she's a triplet and she has a love of horses - what a coincidence. Hannah joins us whilst on a gap year before heading to Exceter University and she's been a great addition.

David Rogers

Bar/Waiting Staff

David had a very different life a few months ago in the glistening mountains of Whistler, Canada, on a ski season but due to a certain pandemic he's put his skis away and joined us. He's also continuing his studies in architecture so who knows what future building he'll have his name on but until then he'll be a valued member of our team. Dave has however, been known to let the team down with his Wine drinking skills which leave little to be desired... it's okay, we're working on it.

Sean Kennedy

Bar/Waiting Staff

When Sean isn't working at the Packhorse, he's here anyway... drinking his wages. Referred to as Prawn due to his fiery red hair. Avid Tottenham fan, you won't find him working if there's a game on.

Max BB

Bar/Waiting Staff

Anyone who's seen Max around the pub when he's not working will recognise his adorable dog, Millie. A confident and well travelled young man, you're more than likely to hear a crazy story or two from him.

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.

Topknot Tom

Bar/Floor Supervisor

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.


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!

John Hooper

Sous Chef

John gets his passion for food from growing his own produce in his allotment. He is often making his own cider, ale, jams and pickles at home and is currently in trouble with the wife for taking over all the shelf space in the cupboards.

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.

Alina

Chef de Partie

Alina is our lovely CDP. 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!

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)!

Rupesh Thapa

Chef de Partie

Rupesh joined is our newest addition to the Kitchen and what a lovely guy! Rupesh has 20 years experience in cheffing and has spent most of his career as a private chef. On his days off Rupesh loves to make tutorials on his favourite dishes so others can get involved in cooking from home.

Cameron Bown

Kitchen Assistant

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.

Holly Brian-Boys

Kitchen Assistant

Holly is our bubby, smiley, little pocket rocket. Currently studying Business at Bristol university, she often pops back to surprise us... although we think she just comes back for the Gin. Holly is always the first to try the new Gin on the shelf. Holly is Max's younger sister and is always keeping him and her best friend, Stan, in check.

Eleonora Stoian

Kitchen Assistant

The sweetest woman in the world.

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.

Willow Davis

Kitchen Porter

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.

Fern Wilson

Kitchen Porter

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!


Maintenance

Colin Millikin

Gardener/Handyperson

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 Fountaine

Gardener/Handyperson

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.

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