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NEWS EXTRA: Reading Abbey ruins finally re-open after nearly ten years

After a £3.15 million pound conservation project the ruins will become the centre piece of the Abbey Quarter. Site-wide interpretation of the Abbey quarter has included the opening of the new Abbey gallery at Reading museum, and installation of new information points across the town.

We've had a sneak preview of the ruins showing the results of the conservation project. The Council say they want the Abbey quarter to be a unique historical destination. 

Abbey fact file:

  • Reading Abbey was one of Europe's most prestigious religious centres and one of the ten wealthiest monastic houses in England
  • Founded in 1121 by Henry I
  • Parliament order to meet at Reading Abbey by Henry VI in 1453
  • 1136 Henry I buried in front of the High Altar - but no one is quite sure if he's still there!
  • Grammar School established by Henry VII in the refectory of the Hospitium in 1485
  • Dissolution of Abbey by Henry VIII in 1539 and execution of the last Abbot Hugh Cook Faringdon for treason
  • After its dissolution the Abbot's House became a Royal palace, a particular favourite of Elizabeth I
  • In 1785 Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra attneded school in Abbey Gateway
  • The Abbey becomes a scheduled ancient monument in 1915

An activity programme will continue in the Abbey until at least 2020 including costumed guides! 

The central tower of the Abbey was as high as the blade building that now dominates the site - the Abbey was bigger than Westminster Abbey!

As well as making the structures safe interpretation boards have been placed around the ruins

Henry I was buried in the Abbey but experts have no idea if his remains are still there

Reading gaol overlooks the Abbey site - it was here that Oscar Wilde was imprisoned between 1895 & 1897.

Turf has been placed on top of the walls to effectively insulate and protect them from the destructive effect of the freeze thaw winter cycle.

Reading museum manager Matthew Williams proudly unveiled the preservation project to journalists in early June 

Matthew gave us a quick tour of the Abbey Ruins, picking out some interesting points of note.

For more information about the project visit the Abbey Quarter's website.

You can also find out more about the history of the Abbey Quarter on Facebook and Twitter.

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