Presentation of the destination
Reading is a county town in Royal Berkshire, South East of England. An ancient city that has a history from 800 AD. Reading has managed to exist with the historical Victorian Gothic Public Buildings and coaching inns to majestic modern offices. Surrounded by beautiful countryside and parks, it is a beautiful city to visit. Take a stroll along the riverside with both the Thames and the Kennet that are on either side. Reading grew rich in the medieval and Tudor periods, because of the trade in cloth. This city has always been famous for the 3B's- Biscuits, Bulbs and Beer, sadly, nothing survived the English Civil War. A shopper's paradise, Reading has major shopping centers, restaurants and pubs. The weather is always unpredictable in Reading, but summers are warm and this city is a pleasure to explore on foot or just relax on a barge moored outside a restaurant. The currency used is the Pound Sterling.
Points of interests / things to see
This scenic city has many famous monuments, and the Town Hall is one of them. This was designed by the renowned Victorian Architect, Alfred Waterhouse in the late 19th century. A grand Victorian Gothic complex that consists of three buildings, the Concert Hall, the Town Hall and the Museum of Reading. The Town Hall has original Georgian assembly rooms, while the Concert Hall has within it's walls the famous Willis Organ. This is the venue for numerous art events and it is here that international and national business events are held. The Museum and Art Galleries were established in 1894. There are permanent displays that tell the history of Reading. Notice the spectacular collection of sculptures, paintings and artwork from the 12th century to the 20th century. The Silchester Gallery has artifacts that were discovered from the Roman town of Calleva near Silchester, Atrebatum. Browse through the coins, pottery, mosaics and jewelry from that era. The Biscuit Gallery tells the story of Huntley & Palmer, the local biscuit makers who bought fame to Reading with their innovative techniques. There are displays on the historic evolution of beer and bulbs in Reading. In the square, stands a statue of Queen Victoria that was commissioned during the Golden Jubilee of the Queen in 1887.
St Laurence's Church is an ancient and beautiful church on Town Hall Square. This church was the place of worship for this town. It was originally part of the Abbey's building, but it has survived over 800 years and has stood through a bomb blast that severely damaged the entire area during the WWII. Dating from the Norman period, this building underwent major renovation at regular intervals from the 12th century to the 19th century. The outstanding facade of this church is it's three stage tower that was built in 1458. The interiors are intricately decorated and house a memorial to John Blagrave, a renowned mathematician from the 16th century. The interior was re-organized and a modern mezzanine floor was constructed close to the nave. Today, it serves as a mission church with the aim of encouraging the faith among the younger generation. The churchyard has many interesting tombstones from the 1700s. Browse for the Blessed Hugh Farringdon, the last abbot of Reading, who was hung, drawn and quartered in front of this church in 1539 for not accepting King Henry VIII as leader of the English church. Another intriguing tombstone is that of Henry West, the wooden plaque states that he was killed when a freak whirlwind threw him off the rood of the Great Western Railway company.
Reading has always been an important pilgrimage site. The Reading Abbey covered over 30 acres in the center of the city. It was commissioned by Henry I, he was the youngest son of William the Conqueror. Henry I laid the foundation stone in 1121 and the Abbey was finally consecrated by St Thomas Becket in 1164 in the presence of Henry II. The Abbey was the social, political and economic power head of Reading for more than 400 years. It played a major role in encouraging Reading to become an industrial city. As this abbey enjoyed royal patronage, it was one of the richest and important houses. It had more than 230 relics and the mummified hand of St James that was discovered during renovation work. It is placed today at St Peter's RC Church, Marlow. It is at this abbey that you will see the graves of English Kings. Henry I, who commissioned this abbey is buried here. He died in France, but his body was brought back to this sacred abbey and respectfully buried in front of the high altar in 1136. Other royals buried at this abbey are Matilda of Scotland, Constance of York and William of Poitiers. This abbey is rich in history as it has seen the wedding of Edward IV in 1464 and a meeting of Parliament in 1453.
The Reading Prison was made famous by Oscar Wilde in his “Ballad of Reading Gaol”. The Reading Gaol was built in 1844 in a model castle cruciform shape style. A classic example of early Victorian style architecture, this prison was built beside the River Kennet. Designed by George Gilbert Scott, it followed a method of prison discipline known as the 'Separate System'. Prisoners were jailed separately in the 250 individual cells in the 4 wings for men, the women had one wing. The flat roof served as a site for executions. The first execution was done in 1845 in front of a crowd of 10000 people and the last execution was done in 1913. From 1916, it was used to jail Irish prisoners involved in the Easter Rising and the Aliens, who were the prisoners from WWI. Oscar Wilde was one of the famous prisoners at this prison, after his trial during the Victorian era. He was transferred to Reading from Wandsworth Prison. Wilde was imprisoned at Readings from 1895-97 when he was found guilt of gross indeceny. He wrote 'De Profundis' during his imprisonment. His balled describes the prison as a 'pit of shame' and moans the 'foul and dark latrine'. After the poem's publication, the Prison Act was passed and living conditions improved for the prisoners.
The Forbury Garden is a beautifully landscaped park that was built between 1856-1864. This historical park is a classic example of Victorian formal gardens. It was originally laid out and over time had additions like the fountain, the infamous Maiwand Lion and the bandstand. The Maiwand Lion is synonymous with the city of Reading. It was officially erected in 1884 as a memorial to the brave men of the 66th Berkshire Regiment, who were killed in the Battle of Maiwand and Kandahar, during the Afghan War II. The Lion at this park is considered to be the biggest and largest statue of a standing lion in the world today. It stands tall at 31 meters and it has a dominant place in the garden. It is made of 16 tons of cast iron and was designed by George Blackall-Simonds. Walk around the garden and enjoy the serene atmosphere of this historic park. The Forbury was once the forecourt of the Reading Abbey and it might have been the site of the Abbey Castle. Forbury Hill had Civil War fortifications on it and according to historians, the invading Vikings had made their camps on these grounds around 870 AD. Visitors can walk to the ruins of the abbey nearby or wander along the river.
The Windsor Castle is about 15.7 miles away from Reading. This is the largest inhabited castle in the world with it's intimidating battlements looming over the town. A fabulous trip that brings the castle to life, join the free family audio tour and make your way through the corridors of history. This guided tour will let you see the Queen Mary's Doll's House, it has running water and electricity! Notice the beautiful ostrich feather bed in the King's chambers, this was made for Emperor Napoleon III. There are breathtaking artwork adorning the walls of royal members, these have been created by luminaries of the art world. Visitors will enjoy the change of guard at 11:00 am each day.
The Basildon Park is located between Streatley and Pangbourne in the Thames Valley. It was rescued from sure demolition by Lord and Lady Iliffe in 1952. This was unoccupied till then and had survived both the wars and the grounds around this house were used as a training ground before the D-Day landings. They lovingly renovated the house and with artwork and furniture and presented it to the National Trust. This picturesque house is surrounded by gardens and has 400 acres of woodland that have marked walking trails. The movie Pride and Prejudice was filmed on this property. Basildon Park hosts weddings, themed parties and open air theater festivals.
This is about 16 miles from the city of Reading, a place to visit for all visitors who are enthusiastic about trains. Didcot Railway Center is home to many Great Western Railway steam locomotives that are displayed in the original engine shed or under restoration in the locomotive works. Walk around and see the antique wagons and Great Western carriage that have been authentically restored. Visitors will see typical Great Western branch line with stations and the signal boxes that were recovered from GWR. There are broad gauge railways that are replicated like the Fire Fly locomotive from 1840. You can take a ride on a steam train! Address: Didcot, Oxfordshire, OX11 7NJ
An intriguing museum that was founded in 1951 and run by the University. It highlights the changes that agriculture and undergone in the countryside. Visitors will enjoy the guided tours, seminars, workshops, lecturers and special sessions for children. There are activities for the whole family. This museum is dedicated to the spirit of the people living in the countryside. On the site, there are hand tools, mowers, farm carts and tractors. There is a library that has an impressive collection of books related to farming and the tools of the trade. Redlands Road Reading Berkshire RG1 5EX Telephone : 0118 378 8660 Opening Time: Tuesday-Friday: 9:00-17:00, Saturday and Sunday 14:00-16:30
Vacation rentals in Reading (England)
How to get there ?
The Heathrow airport is about 30 minutes away west on the M4 from the city center. There are coaches which leave at regular intervals connecting the airport with Reading. Take the coak at the central coach station. This is a better option that the Heathrow Express train service, which will require a break in your journey and a change of train at Paddington. Reading is served by 3 junctions of the M4 motorway that links it within M25. It is easy to drive in this part of town and the maps are available, but it can get busy and the city center is off limits to cars during certain times. There is amble parking space, but parking can be expensive. The National Express coaches serve Calcot, just off M4 about 6 miles west of Reading center. There are many local buses on the Calcot route that will drop you off at the town center. Getting around the city The bus service at Reading is excellent. The buses serve the entire Reading are and many of the local villages too. The trips are on time and regular. The bicycle is another option to get around this city, there are well marked cycle parking slots all over the city and especially in the town center.
Hotels in Reading (England)