Saturday 16th October 2021 – BAS AGM & Lecture: Reading Abbey & Gaol

Reading Abbey and Reading Gaol

by John Painter, FoRA

This will be an overview of the Abbey Quarter, including the founding in 1121 of a royal abbey, which became one of the 10 greatest and richest monastic foundations in Britain in the high middle ages and a major pilgrimage centre linked to St James the Great; its dissolution in 1539, the destruction of the abbey church, and the re-use of monastic buildings as a royal palace until further damaged in the English Civil War; how the Abbey Quarter was the focus for re-development in Reading from the 1780s onwards and the architectural legacy of this development; with a specific focus on Reading Gaol, a brief history of the Gaol up to the present, recent archaeological surveys, and options for the future use of the site.   

There is quite a lot about Reading Abbey 900 on the FORA website,

Including a links to a very good promotional video produced by Living Reading, a Youtube introductory film to visiting Reading Abbey Quarter to mark the start of the year in which Reading Abbey celebrates its 900th anniversary. FORA has also been working with the Mayor, Cllr David Stevens, to promote a series of video talks on the Abbey, to which there are also links. 

John Painter retired from local government in 2019, following 36 years working for Reading Borough Council.  He has been actively involved in the Friends of Reading Abbey since 2011, and Secretary from 2013. His motive in joining FORA was to support the council’s efforts to consolidate the Abbey Ruins and get them re-opened to the public access (achieved in 2018) in good time for 2021, the 900th anniversary of the Abbey’s foundations.  

John has a wide range of interests, including local history, opera, singing in Reading Male Voice Choir, railways, rugby, cricket and beer. 

This meeting will be live at RISC. Please arrive by 2pm (latest 2:10 online) as the AGM will start at 2:15. The lecture will be at 2:30.

The meeting will also be live streamed. I.e. members will be able to attend either at RISC in person or via Zoom as they so wish. Details will be emailed to members before the event.

Live meetings will be held at The RISC Centre, London Street. Reading, RG1 4PS. Note that there is no car parking on site so please use town centre car parks or public transport.

Google map reference