Reading, its history and attractions

Updated 3 December 2021

The Trooper Potts VC Memorial Trust Website contains information about Reading Past and Present.

                  The History of Reading

The vision of Reading in the future Reading 2050 can be reached via the link; Reading 2050

There is NO Tourist Information Centre in Reading. Despite the large number of visitors this was dispensed with years ago.  The council view was that visitors (old and young) will use their mobile phones to find any relevant information.  However as an initiative by Reading UK in 2021 a stand was established in Reading Station, staffed by volunteers, to guide visitors.

The Living Reading website is helpful Living Reading – Visitor Information

To find out about the huge variety of events in Reading go to  What’s On Reading

Footslogging with a mission?

Fancy walking the St James Way to Southampton and then via Galicia to Santiago de Compostela?  Of course you do – nothing easier in Reading   Start at St James Church by Reading Abbey ruins .  Reading for modern pilgrims (livingreading.co.uk)

The Danes have “visited” Reading a few times 

In 871 it was recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle that a major Danish army had come to Reading and the town got its first mention in the history books. The army sacked to Monastery which was on the site of Reading Minster.

During the seven year Gunboat War (1807-1814) between Britain and Denmark – Norway some 600 Danish Prisoners of War were held on parole in Reading. Mainly officers and merchants they were on their honour not to escape and integrated well, into the community and became known as The Gentlemen Danes.  One, Laurenthius Braag, died here in 1808 and is commemorated on a memorial on the south wall of Reading Minster.  We were alerted to the importance of the memorial, and its importance, by society member John Nixon. Reading Civic Society members contributed funds to us to restore the  memorial in 2009.

A rededication service took place in October 2009 led by the Revd Canon Brian Shenton, Vicar of Reading Minster, which was attended by the Lord-Lieutenant of the Royal County of Berkshire, The Mayor of Reading , the Naval Attaché from the Danish Embassy, many Danish residents of Berkshire and Civic Society members. Report of the rededication

IMG_5057

The completed restoration with, L-R; Michael Eastham (Restorer) Canon Brian Shenton (Reading Minster) and Richard Bennett (Reading Civic Society)

In October  2021 John published a book about the engrossing story of the Gentlemen Danes.  It is a significant contribution to understanding this little known period of Reading’s history.  Further information may be found  HERE and the book ordered from Soaring Kite  soaringkite.co.uk   

A book launch event, talk by John and reception will be held early in 2022 in the offices of  Haslams Estate Agents.

Alfred Waterhouse designed several major buildings in Reading as explained in this article by Kate Ellis  Alfred Waterhouse

 The local attractions?

The Trooper Potts VC Memorial, unveiled by Chris Tarrant OBE and the Lord-Lieutenant of Berkshire on 4 October 2015.

The ruins of Reading Abbey were closed for many years.

From 2017 they were the subject of a £3.2M programme of consolidation and repair work, re-opening in June 2018 Unveiling June 2018. The 900th Anniversary of the founding of the Abbey was celebrated in 2021. Matthew Williams gives us a Sneak preview

A good source for information and events,  including any planned visits to the ruins, is the Friends of Reading Abbey website.   Reading Museum information about the Abbey is very useful.  There is a map for a self guided walk of the Abbey Quarter  Explore the Abbey Quarter, Volunteers from the Museum also give guided tours.

Trip Advisor lists over  200 things to do around Reading;                                               Attractions around Reading

Heritage Open Days in  2022 will run 9-18 September, always a great way to dig into Reading’s history.

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