A FASCINATING new interactive map launched this month is bringing the history of the town’s Abbey Quarter to life.
The online map has been created by Reading Museum, as part of the Reading Abbey Revealed project.
Each point on the map provides information on areas of historical interest around the town, including the tumultuous history of Reading’s Butter Market, the enigma of the Forbury Hill and how a mysterious mummified hand, found in the abbey walls by workmen in the 18th century, is believed to be the abbey’s holy relic hand of St James.
The abbey was once one of the largest royal monasteries in Europe. The map has a useful overlay outline plan of the abbey which provides a sense of just how extensive the abbey was across the modern town centre. There are plans to further enhance the map in future with the addition of audio and video.
People can explore the map at www.readingabbeyquarter.org.uk/explore/explore-abbey
Each point of interest on the map also corresponds to new information panels that will be installed across the town centre from the end of May 2018. These panels tell the story of the abbey and its effect on Reading.
The first of these panels has already been installed at St Mary’s Church in Minster Street, on the corner opposite John Lewis. The museum added this trial panel last year and invited people to feedback on how useful it was.
The feedback from the public has since influenced the final design of the other information panels, including revising the font and colour scheme to improve the panel legibility and ensure they are accessible for people who are visually impaired. The panel at St Mary’s Church will be also be updated based on this feedback.
Cllr Sarah Hacker, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture, said: “Reading has a rich and exciting heritage, which many people do not know enough about. The new interactive map and the panels around the town will play a key part of promoting our significant history to Reading’s visitors. They also go some way to informing residents about the heritage of their town and in particular, the importance of Reading’s Abbey. Thank you to everyone who took the time to feedback on the panels.”
Cllr Tony Page, Reading’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Transport and Planning, said: “In the Abbey Quarter, Reading boasts a site of national significance. It is important our heritage is preserved and communicated now and for future generations to come. Both the interactive online map and the information panels across the town play a part in achieving this. This work is part of the Reading Abbey Revealed project, with the much anticipated re- opening of the Reading Abbey Ruins from 16th June.”
The ‘Reading Abbey Revealed’ celebration will take place from 11am on Saturday 16th June 2018, following a three year, £3.15 million conservation project.
The re-opening festival will coincide this year’s Water Fest, Reading’s annual celebration of the town’s waterways. There will be a host of exciting activities and performances across the Abbey Quarter throughout the day.
After 9 years and thanks to £1.77 million funding support from to National Lottery players and the Heritage Lottery Fund and match funding of £1.38million from the Council, the ambitious project to reinvigorate Reading’s pre-eminent and nationally important heritage site will be complete.
View the feedback received by the museum on panels:
Reading Abbey Revealed
The Abbey Quarter in central Reading brings together nationally important heritage within the former grounds of Reading Abbey, once one of Europe’s largest royal monasteries. The conservation of the Grade I listed, scheduled Abbey Ruins and Abbey Gateway are central to Reading Council’s vision to transform the Abbey Quarter into a unique historical destination.
Reading Abbey Revealed is a major project, made possible through £1.77 million funding support thanks to National Lottery players and the Heritage Lottery Fund and match funding of £1.38 million from Reading Borough Council.
Reading Council appointed CRL Restoration as the main contractor responsible for implementing the conservation side of the Reading Abbey Revealed project in January 2017.
The ambitious scope of the project has conserved the remains of Reading Abbey and the Abbey Gateway, and has provided opportunities through events, volunteering and education. Site-wide interpretation of the Abbey Quarter has included the opening of the new Abbey gallery at Reading Museum and will include installing new information points across the town. The accompanying activity programme will continue beyond the Abbey opening until the end of 2020.
People can keep up to date with the project by visiting the Abbey Quarter’s website www.readingabbeyquarter.org.uk Facebook Page www.facebook.com/ReadingAbbeyQuarter or by following them on twitter @RdgAbbey
For further information about the re-opening festival on 16 June visit the website www.readingabbeyquarter.org.uk/whats-on/reading-abbey-revealed
About the Heritage Lottery Fund
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk . Follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram #HLFsupported.