Reading Abbey Ruins

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
I
List Entry Number:
1113477
Date first listed:
22-Mar-1957
Date of most recent amendment:
14-Dec-1978
Statutory Address:
Reading Abbey Ruins, Forbury Gardens, Reading

Map

Ordnance survey map of Reading Abbey Ruins
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Location

Statutory Address:
Reading Abbey Ruins, Forbury Gardens, Reading

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District:
Reading (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SU 72002 73549

Details

SU 7173 NE 1/1

SU 7273 7/1

READING Forbury Gardens Reading Abbey Ruins

(Formerly listed under Abbots Walk)

22.3.57.

GV I

Founded 1121 by Henry I and intended to be England's principal Cluniac House. Extensive precincts 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 Gardens. 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 two 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

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
38934
Legacy System:
LBS

Sources

Other
Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England, Part 3 Berkshire,

Legal

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 18 Apr 2001
Reference: IOE01/03999/06
Rights: Copyright IoE Ms Pamela Jackson. Source Historic England Archive
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