For years I had driven along the Reading road, passing the signs for Mapledurham House, but had never even been down the road, and what a road it was.
I thought it would be just around the corner, but no it was deep into the countryside and along a long and twisting road, many areas only narrow enough for one car, but driving very slowly, we arrived safely at some gates that has a man sat in a little wooden shed is the best way to describe it, where as I had booked I told him my name and was handed a white envelope with our tickets inside.
The House and grounds were not overly huge, but still quite impressive, I just love the smell, look and atmospheres of old buildings, the stories they can tell the histories they have, Mapledurham being no exception.
We went for a walk about inside, they had a little quiz for visiting children to fill in, looking around & counting objects.
I really enjoyed it when my children asked questions, they laughed when I explained the tin bathes on display in a small room off the grand bedroom, Anna pointed out they didn't have taps, so I explained the water would be heated and poured in, or have cold baths, makes us realise how far we have come with technology, when you look back that it wasn't that long ago we didn't have electric showers and hot running taps.
We walked around the well maintained lawns and gardens and enjoyed the beauty of the surroundings.
It truly is a beautiful part of the country that we live in.
They have a working Watermill still in use and we were able to go and explore and look around it, the stairs to climb the upper deck area to see the mill working, was very steep to say the least, very narrow steps, but thankfully the stairs on the otherside to come down, were more like steps.
They have a little gift shop in the watermill and you can buy flour, oats that have been ground at the watermill.
We all enjoyed the house, the grounds and the watermill, but there is one thing I feel I must be honest about, the cream teas.
For some reason I had it in my head it was to be afternoon tea, as served in the Ritz, you know the triple plates with sandwiches, cakes & scones with a pot of tea, well no I made a mistake it was cream tea, 2 good scones, with jam and cream, not clotted cream alas, in what can only be described as a cafe setting, no disrespect to cafe's, but I was so disappointed to see pub style benches, I did think it must just be a casual cafe, but then realised people were having cream teas outside.
I had to go and queue in a tiny little cafe, to collect my cream tea, carrying it outside, but there was wasps and flies about and it would of totally ruined the experienced for me.
So we decided to eat inside, we were the only ones mind and it wasn't too bad, it had some history, it felt old worldly yet still very basic cheap cafe, such a let down on a beautiful area, though I realise it costs a lot to keep these old homes going, looking around the main building there were many areas crumbling and large cracks about.
Inside the old manor house there was some history, but to be honest a lot of tatty areas, the chairs and tables were like old school ones.
I would of thought we might of been served, but no we had to collect our own, then I had to go back for butter as its not given with the scones and also for knives to use.
It was a very basic, if maybe rustic, but a cheap version of tea, it made me appreciate even more that we actually didn't pay the full price and just the Groupon costs, as had I paid £45 for it all, I would of felt incredibly disappointed, but the fact that we paid £18 via Groupon made it slightly better.
We also noticed looking around, more areas to eat indoors, the stables and another room, totally shabby, also the garage had some tables, but it also housed 2 huge deep freezers, it looked really off putting and sad.
Would I recommend a visit to Mapledurham House, yes if you can manage to get a good deal like I did with Groupon, if you like period houses, watermills, but if your going for an afternoon out to enjoy cream tea, then no I wouldn't recommend it, or be prepared that its a simple and basic eating areas.