Winter Conservation Preparation at the Abbey Ruins

Reading Abbey Ruins Autumn 2018

STONE MASONS will be back in the Reading Abbey Ruins this autumn, ensuring the newly conserved remains are protected during the winter months.

The Council’s conservation contractors, Cliveden Conservation, will be carrying out annual conservation work at low level sections of the dormitory and necessarium (the monks’ communal toilet) walls this winter.

The conservation will involve using a medieval technique of hot lime mortar, similar to the methods used in the original construction of Reading Abbey almost 900 years ago. As far as is practical with modern materials, this means a return to a simple ‘hot’ mix of quicklime and sand – perfect for the tricky work of consolidating the irregular and crumbling surfaces of the abbey ruins.

This work will start from Monday 29th October 2018 and continue through November to ensure the ruins are ready to face the harsher winter months. The work will be repeated in spring 2019 when the conservation team will check for loose flint at a higher level.

Cllr Sarah Hacker, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, said: “In the Abbey Quarter, Reading boasts a site of national significance. This year the Council fulfilled its long-standing ambition to preserve these important ruins and open the abbey to the public, alongside an exciting programme of events and activities centred on this wonderful location. The conservation work this autumn is part of our ongoing commitment to maintaining the ruins for future generations to appreciate.”

The abbey’s re-opening on 16th June 2018, after almost 10 years closure, was a focal point of this year’s Water Fest, Reading’s annual free celebration of the town’s waterways, with over 18,000 visiting the site on its first open day.

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 £1.38million from Reading Borough Council.

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.

Visitors to the Abbey Quarter and Reading Museum still have an exciting series of events and activities on offer this autumn/winter, including Reading Abbey Quarter Tours, Abbey Gateway Tours, Victorian Schoolroom Experience sessions and in December, Father Christmas Victoria Winter Grotto. For more information on what’s on in the Abbey Quarter, visit: www.readingabbeyquarter.org.uk/abbey/whats-on

Ends

Notes

Conservation in the Ruins

The ruins closed in 2009 when their deteriorating condition led to large pieces of flint falling from the walls. In February 2017 specialist conservation work began to conserve the ruins and to prevent further deterioration. This included three key elements: add soft capping to the tops of the walls to prevent water penetration, consolidate the rubble walls to prevent further flint falling and restore fallen flint to improve stability.

The team returned to the methods used in the original construction of the Abbey almost 900 years ago. As far as is practical with modern materials, this means a return to a simple ‘hot’ mix of quicklime (the material name for calcium oxide) and sand. This is hot mixed lime mortar, perfect for the tricky work of consolidating the irregular and crumbling surfaces of the Abbey ruins.

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 £1.38million 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 has included installing new information points across the town. The accompanying activity programme will continue beyond the Abbey opening until the end of 2020.

People can find out more about 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

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.

Victoria Nickless

For media enquiries about this release email victoria.nickless@reading.gov.uk or call 0118 937 3957