Reading Photo Gallery

About 60km west of London, Reading was once a hotspot where the religious elite and the merchants jostled for influence. It is a major railway junction, where trains between London, South Wales, and West Midlands meet. The fastest trains can reach London Paddington in under half an hour, while the Elizabeth Line can reach deeper into London without changing trains.

Over 230,000 people live in the Reading area, and its town centre looks classy with plenty of shops in nice lowrise buildings.

Saint Laurence Church was one of Reading's 3 parish churches and served the town's east side. Its history goes back some 900 years as it was once a chapel at Reading Abbey's gates. The current tower was built in the mid-15th century and hosts 12 bells.

Next door, the Town Hall we see today was primarily designed by Alfred Waterhouse, who added the clock tower, council chamber, and offices in 1875, although there was a pre-existing older building on the site already. Its red and grey bricks with terracotta panels were locally made. It consists a total of 4 buildings built in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Behind these buildings is the leafy Victorian-style Forbury Gardens.

Just a short walk away are the Reading Abbey's ruins. This grand structure dates from the medieval period with King Henry I announcing its construction in 1121, becoming one of the largest monasteries in Europe and he would eventually be buried here in 1136. Construction continued for the next 200 years and monks lived here for over 400 until everything abruptly stopped in the 1530s during the 'Dissolution' and it was destroyed during the Civil War.

Meanwhile, new buildings have sprung up close by along the river.

I walked across to the other side of the River Kennet, passing Wesley and Sacred Heart Churches on the way to my next attraction.