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And Local Government in Reading 

Mayor of Reading -  Nash Ford Publishing


  • Tothill was the old name for the top end of Minster Street. It means 'meeting hill'. It led down to the Yield Hall. This was Reading's original town hall and the Abbey's court house.
  • In Norman times, the Abbot controlled everything that went on in Reading.
  • The townsfolk had to fight hard to set up 'guilds' to control trade rules in the town. They were eventually allowed to do this in 1254, but the Abbot still got to pick the mayor in charge.
  • There were guilds for:
    • Clothiers & clothworkers
    • Cutlers (knife makers) & bellfounders (this included all metal & wood workers, builders & even barbers!)
    • Tanners (leather makers) & leathersellers
    • Mercers & drapers (cloth & clothing sellers)
    • Victuallers (food & drink sellers)
  • They met in the Yield Hall. It was built on an island in the Kennet.
  • The town washerwomen would wash clothes in the Holy Brook outside and make lots of noise. The people at the guild meetings couldn't hear each other speak!
  • When the Abbey was dissolved by John London in 1539, the townsfolk took control of the town at last.
  • London arranged for the King to give them the old Friary buildings as a new town hall instead.
  • The old Yield Hall was used for industry and changed a lot over the years.
  • It was pulled down in 1935.


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