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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
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1113477
English Heritage Legacy ID: 38934
Location: Reading, RG1
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
Reading Abbey Ruins
(formerly listed under
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
Other nearby listed buildings