Thirty-four Paviors enjoyed a boat trip from Reading to visit Mapledurham House on Wednesday 1 June.
The boat, the Princess Marina, was built in Great Yarmouth in 1928 and is listed in the ‘historic boats’ register. The cruise went upstream from Caversham Bridge to just below Mapledurham Lock, where passengers disembarked to enjoy tea and coffee in the original 12th-century manor house.
The head of the Mapledurham administration team then took Paviors on a tour of the inside of the main house that was built in the 16th-century by Sir Michael Blount, who was Queen Elizabeth’s Lieutenant of the Tower of London. The house sits in an extensive estate on the banks of the River Thames and is a magnificent example of a brick-built Tudor mansion. The house was inherited 50 years ago by J J Eyston, who has spent his life restoring the property and running the estate as a going-concern. It contains many fascinating Tudor furnishings and artefacts, and offers splendid views along the Thames Valley from its upstairs windows. The location has attracted many film and television productions, including The Eagle Has Landed, Miss Marple and Midsomer Murders.
Paviors then took a short walk past Mapledurham’s St Margaret’s Church to the Estate’s water mill. Here the group had a most entertaining first-hand account from Corry the Miller about the mill and its operation. It is the only water mill on the River Thames that is still in commercial production, and the Paviors had the opportunity to purchase flour and other products of the mill in its shop. The mill also boasts a archimedes screw used to generate hydroelectic power for the Estate, which was installed in 2011 and this was the first of its kind in the country.
The Princess Marina was then boarded again for a cruise upstream through Whitchurch Lock at Pangbourne, during which an excellent hot buffet lunch was enjoyed to help fortify those attending against the unseasonal weather. The return through Whitchurch and Mapledurham Locks brought the visitors back to Reading. The boat then passed under Caversham Bridge to turn just below the recently-opened £5.9 million Christchurch Bridge, built for pedestrians and cyclists, with its 68-metre span and cable-stayed construction supported by a 39-metre mast.
This most enjoyable event was organized by the Paviors’ Luncheon Club, with particular thanks to Peter and Gill King.
Some images of the event are shown in the Photographic Archive