Public views sought on new Reading Abbey town panel

A NEW information panel celebrating the link between St Mary’s Church and Reading Abbey will soon be temporarily on display at St Mary’s Church.

From 11 September, a new information panel situated outside St Mary’s Church, as part of the Reading Abbey Revealed Project, will document the history of the Minster Church and its links to the Abbey.

Staff and volunteers – some in costume – will be asking visitors on the style, content and accessibility of this new panel on Chain Street, near John Lewis, over a two week period. This second-version panel has been re-designed, based on the public’s feedback from a prototype interpretation panel, currently on display at the Reading Abbey Quarter: ‘Then and Now’ exhibition within Reading Museum.

The results of this first public consultation have recently been shared through a new museum blog: Abbey Panels – You told us, we listened! on Reading Museum’s website:

From early September, there will also be a new information panel going on display at the museum to test the design of the new permanent Abbey Gallery panels. Staff and volunteers will be asking the public for their views on this panel during their visits to the museum.

It is intended that the feedback from both of these panels will inform the design of future interpretation boards across the town and new gallery panels within the museum.

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

“Reading has a rich and exciting heritage, which many people do not know enough about. I hope that these panels go some way to inform the public about the heritage of their town and in particular, the important of St Mary’s Church, and the Abbey. I would encourage all those asked to give feedback.”

The Reading Abbey Quarter interpretation and gallery panels form part of the ‘Reading Abbey Revealed’ project, which will see the restoration of Reading’s Abbey Quarter. The National Lottery supported work on the conservation of the Abbey Ruins and Gatehouse, which began in February, is planned to be completed in the summer of 2018, when the Abbey is due to be re-opened to the public. The current timetable is as follows:

  • February 2017: Work started on site.
  • 20 May 2017: ‘Reading Abbey Quarter: Then and Now’ temporary exhibition opened at Reading Museum.
  • Winter 2018: New Abbey Gallery opens at Reading Museum
  • Summer 2018: the Abbey Ruins fully open to the public, complemented by a programme of events and activities.
  • Summer / Autumn 2018: Abbey Gateway re-opens for schools and community learning use by Reading Museum.
  • The National Lottery grant of £1.77m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) means the accompanying activity programme will continue beyond the opening until the end of 2020.

Historically, the Abbey was one of the most important religious buildings in Northern Europe, often visited by pilgrims and nobility from throughout England before its dissolution. Founded by Henry I over 800 years ago, there is also an archaeological initiative at the Abbey, “The Hidden Abbey Project”, which hopes to reveal the extent of the building and new evidence relating to the town’s history.

Notes for Editors:

Longer link to blog:

As part of the long term plans to re-open the Abbey Ruins, Reading Borough Council was awarded £1.77million by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in support of the Abbey Revealed project to match the Council’s contribution of £1.38million to breathe life into the site.

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


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

To find out more about CRL Restoration, visit:

Follow CRL Restorations progress on the project:


Victoria Nickless

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