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Solitary Life in the Centre of Reading? 

The Hermit of Friar Street -  Nash Ford Publishing


  • St. Edmund's Chapel stood at the top end of New Street (now called Friar Street), near the Franciscan Friary, in Reading.
  • It was built along with a small 'cell' (house) by Laurence Burges in 1204.
  • He was a bailiff (who enforced court decisions) in Reading, but wanted to retire and become a hermit.
  • A hermit was someone who gave up all their possessions and devoted their life to God, like a monk. However, they lived on their own & relied on the charity of others to survive.
  • Most hermits lived in remote places, not in the centre of big towns like Reading.
  • Laurence gave Reading Abbey a house to pay for his upkeep. 
  • He would have been visited by pilgrims travelling between the abbey and the relic chapel on Caversham Bridge.
  • A priest called a chaplain held regular services in the chapel.
  • By 1376, the Abbot stopped appointing chaplains. The chapel stood empty.
  • By 1481, it had been converted into a barn!


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