History of Reading Abbey to be Revealed with new information panels


AS PART of the ongoing “Reading Abbey Revealed” project, the Abbey Gateway will soon be wrapped in banners while the restoration works are carried out.

An opportunity to showcase the historic Abbey Quarter, information panels and an audio device on the hoardings will give residents an insight into the rich history of the Quarter, as well as the ongoing works and future plans for the area. The scheme will also provide information about the Reading Abbey Quarter: Then and Now exhibition, which is running parallel to the conservation work at Reading Museum between 20 May and 23 September. The exhibition will tell the history of the Quarter, and will uniquely offer the chance to comment on the interpretation panels that will be installed across the Abbey Quarter.

Reading Abbey Volunteers

Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the Reading Abbey Revealed project will conserve and restore access to Reading’s medieval heritage.

The Abbey Gateway was one of only two complete buildings that survived the dissolution of the original Abbey back in 1539. It was originally designed to mark the division between the public and private areas to the Abbey and overlooks the place where the last Abbot of Reading, Hugh Cook Faringdon, met his fate. The building was originally restored by back in 1861 after a thunderstorm caused the archway to collapse. Once current restoration work is completed, the gateway will become an education and meeting space – school groups will be able to come to the Gateway to experience a day in the life of a Victorian schoolchild in the large upper room, having previously been used as a school in the 19th century.


Councillor Paul Gittings, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Culture, said:

“I’m delighted by the progress we have seen so far towards the eventual reopening of this fundamental part of Reading’s history to the public next year. I will be continuing to monitor the progress of conservation works throughout the year with much anticipation.”

The National Lottery supported work, which began in February, is planned to be completed in the summer of 2018, when it is due to be reopened to the public. The current timetable is as follows:

  • February 2017: Work starts on site.
  • 20 May 2017: ‘Reading Abbey Quarter: Then and Now’ temporary exhibition 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 reopens 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:

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. www.hlf.org.uk. 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 (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