Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: I

List Entry Number: 1113477

Date first listed: 22-Mar-1957

Date of most recent amendment: 14-Dec-1978



Ordnance survey map of READING ABBEY RUINS
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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


FORBURY GARDENS 1. 5128 Reading Abbey Ruins (formerly listed under Abbots Walk) SU 7173 NE 1/1 SU 7273 7/1 22.3.57. GV 2. 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


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

Legacy System number: 38934

Legacy System: LBS


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

End of official listing