Fodor's Expert Review Mapledurham House
This section of the Thames inspired Kenneth Grahame's 1908 The Wind in the Willows, which began as a bedtime story for Grahame's son Alastair while the family lived at Pangbourne. Some of E.F. Shepard's illustrations are of specific sites along the river—none more fabled than this redbrick Elizabethan mansion, bristling with tall chimneys, mullioned windows, and battlements. It became the inspiration for Shepard's vision of Toad Hall. Family portraits, magnificent oak staircases, wood paneling, and plasterwork ceilings abound. Look out for the life-size deer guarding the fireplace in the entrance hall. There's also a 15th-century working grain mill on the river. The house is 10 miles southwest of Henley-on-Thames.