Maps & Travels
Towns & Villages
Castles & Houses
Odds & Ends
From Old Folks & Pilgrims to
Town Councillors in Reading
- St. Laurence's Church was built by the
monks of Reading Abbey on the edge of
their monastery. The Compter Gate to the abbey was once attached to
it. The church was for the use of the people from the eastern part of
- The present building dates from 1196,
with 15th century changes.
- Behind the church was the 'Hospital of
St. John'. This was like an old people's home for 26 men and women. It
was also a hostel for pilgrims visiting
the abbey. The 'hospitium' where they slept still stands.
- In 1485, it was converted into Reading
School. Puritan Palmer worked there.
The school only moved out in 1871. Famous students include:
- After the Dissolution
of the Abbey, the stables became part of the Royal
- In Elizabethan times, part of the hospital
became the town hall. That is why the present town hall stands on the
site. It was built by Alfred Waterhouse in 1875.
- The famous mathematician, John Blagrave,
was buried at St. Laurence's Church in 1611. He left money for a posh
covered walkway to be built along the south side. It was called 'Blagrave's
Piazza'. It was pulled down in 1868.
- During the Siege
of Reading in the Civil War, both
sides used the old hospital as a barracks, stables and gunpowder