Exhibition Exploring the History of Reading’s Oldest Gem Launches This Weekend

READING Abbey Quarter: Then and Now exhibition officially launches this weekend, with a formal opening on Saturday by the Mayor Councillor Rose Williams, and Lead Councillor for Culture, Sport, and Consumer Services, Councillor Sarah Hacker.

The exhibition, which is open now until 23 September, is an exciting opportunity for residents to truly realise the immense history of the expansive Abbey Quarter, and discover plans for the future. It is a chance to take a journey through time to see how the site has changed through the centuries and the impact it has had on Reading – from prehistory to the present day – through an expansive collection of artwork and artefacts. There is also a chance for residents to feedback on the new display panels that will be installed around Reading next year to tell the history of the Abbey.

Councillor Sarah Hacker, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Culture, said:

“I am thrilled to launch this fascinating new exhibition illustrating the immensely rich history of the Abbey Quarter.

This is just a small part of the overall works to regenerate, what was the heart of Reading and I would like to encourage residents to visit the exhibition when they have an opportunity to realise such an important part of the heritage of the town.”

Reading Abbey was historically one of the most important religious buildings in Northern Europe, and received pilgrims from all over England. Founded by Henry I in 1121, it was designed to become a royal mausoleum of epic proportions on a similar scale to Norwich Cathedral. However, the Abbey did not survive the dissolution of the monasteries 1539 with only two complete buildings surviving to present day.

The exhibition is being held in the Sir John Madejski Art Gallery within Reading Museum, and is free of charge for visitors. There are also daily short tours of the exhibition available until 3 June, and pop-up talks every Wednesday from 7 June. There is more information available at http://www.readingmuseum.org.uk/whats-on/reading-abbey-quarter-then-and-now.


Notes for Editors

Reading’s Abbey Quarter has been the traditional civic and ceremonial heart of the county town of Royal Berkshire since the 12th century. The Quarter is defined by the medieval streets and rivers that outline the precinct of Reading Abbey. This area contains the substantial standing remains and buried archaeology of Reading Abbey, telling its story from the foundation by Henry I in 1121 to its dissolution by Henry VIII in 1539.

The Quarter shows evidence of all periods since the Abbey’s dissolution: a royal residence, civil war defences, Jane Austen’s school, the impressive municipal buildings, Victorian public gardens and Oscar Wilde’s infamous Reading Gaol. There are buildings by famous architects including Sir John Soane, A.W.N. Pugin, Alfred Waterhouse and Sir George Gilbert Scott. Significant public sculpture within the Quarter includes Simond’s Maiwand Lion and statue of Queen Victoria, and contemporary artworks such as the Oscar Wilde Memorial Walk.

Reading Museum is also located within the Quarter and has important collections relating to the heritage of Reading and the Quarter, particularly Reading Abbey and later Victorian industrial heritage.

Reading Abbey: Then and Now is part of the Reading Abbey Revealed project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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 us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported.

For up to date information about the exciting work being done on Reading Abbey you can follow the project on Twitter @RdgAbbey or Facebook @ReadingAbbeyQuarter.

People can keep up to date with the project by visiting the Abbey Quarter’s Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/ReadingAbbeyQuarter), or by following them on twitter (@RdgAbbey). More information about the project can be found at www.readingabbeyquarter.org.uk.

To find out more about CRL Restoration, visit: www.crlrestoration.eu.com

Follow CRL Restorations progress on the project: https://www.linkedin.com/company/crl-restoration





Victoria Nickless

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