Reading Abbey Gatehouse
Reading Abbey Gatehouse
Reading Abbey Gatehouse

Reading Abbey Re-Opened to the Public

Reading Abbey re-opened its doors to the public on Saturday 16 June 2018 after being closed for nine years. The celebrations even saw 'Henry I', who founded the abbey in 1121, attend and join in the festivities!

Reading Abbey is a scheduled monument and a Grade I listed building. Its founder Henry I was buried in the chancel. In the 15th century it was used as a meeting place for the House of Commons when the plague forced them out of London and it became a royal palace of Henry VIII after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1537.

The re-opened ruins are owned by Reading Council and they have been consolidated by CRL construction and Cliveden Conservation. The contractors used the recently revived method of hot lime mixing of the mortar to consolidate the standing flint wall core.

The works were primarily grant aided by the Heritage Lottery Fund (now the National Lottery Heritage Fund). However, Historic England grant aided the repairs to the Refectory Wall. They also gave the first grant to the Abbey Gatehouse to halt its deteriorating condition. The grant-aided works were overseen by Heritage at Risk Surveyor Nicola Lauder.

Historic England Assistant Ancient Monuments Inspector, David Wilkinson was responsible for the Scheduled Monument consent necessary for the works. Historic England specialist advisors contributed on technical aspects such as soft wall capping. This technique uses turf on the tops of walls to help protect exposed wall tops.

Historic England was very pleased to be invited to take part in the celebrations.