History in Structure

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Reading Abbey Ruins

A Grade I Listed Building in Abbey, Reading

More Photos »
Approximate Location Map
Large Map »


Latitude: 51.4564 / 51°27'22"N

Longitude: -0.9651 / 0°57'54"W

OS Eastings: 472002

OS Northings: 173549

OS Grid: SU720735

Mapcode National: GBR QNF.9C

Mapcode Global: VHDWT.7N5F

Entry Name: Reading Abbey Ruins

Listing Date: 22 March 1957

Last Amended: 14 December 1978

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1113477

English Heritage Legacy ID: 38934

Location: Reading, RG1

County: Reading

Electoral Ward/Division: Abbey

Built-Up Area: Reading

Traditional County: Berkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Berkshire

Church of England Parish: Reading St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

Find accommodation in

Listing Text

Reading Abbey Ruins
(formerly listed under
Abbots Walk)
SU 7173 NE 1/1
SU 7273 7/1 22.3.57.
Founded 1121 by Henry I and intended to be England's principal Cluniac House.
Extensive precints stretched from the Plummery Wall (qv) to the Kennet and
from St Laurence's (at the west gate) (qv) to the east side of the Gaol (qv).
From excavation and from what remains it is clear that the Abbey with its apse
and apsidal transept chapels was in the mainstream of Norman architecture.
It may have been vaulted but insufficient research has been done on this aspect,
which would have made it remarkable indeed. The picturesque surviving fragments
are a rubble core stripped almost entirely of its facing stone. The remains
are principally grouped to the south of St James's R C School. They include
portions of the north and south transepts, the chapter-house (which must have
resembled that at Durham), the west wall of the Dorter and the rere-dorter.
Fragmentary remains in the Forbury Gardens are listed separately. A further
stretch of wall runs towards Abbey Street behind Abbey Wall. For the Gatehouse,
Hospitium see separate items. Reading Abbey's importance now lies in the field
of Romanesque sculpture. Fragments were disposed as far away as Shiplake,
many are still incorporated in walls through-out Reading and several cart-loads
of carved stones abound in the Forbury Garders, The date of the carved fragments
is probably not later than 1136 (when Henry I was buried in the chancel) and
is more likely to be circa 1130. The best items which have come to light,
many excavated in the 1950s and probably from a cloister, are now in Reading,
Museum (some, including the Coronation of the Virgin, were previously at the
V and A where they were on display). The excavated cloister capitals include
the earliest known representation of the Coronation of the Virgin and one with
2 bearded angels. Fragments of decoration include masks, chevron and more
especially beakhead, probably its earliest use in England. A large stone with
interlace now used as font in St James' RC Church (qv). (Ancient Monuments,
Berks No 1).

Listing NGR: SU7199073554

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

Other nearby listed buildings

BritishListedBuildings.co.uk is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact BritishListedBuildings.co.uk for any queries related to any individual listed building, planning permission related to listed buildings or the listing process itself.

British Listed Buildings is a Good Stuff website.