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The Chapter House
off Abbot's Walk, Reading
The Chapter House was the general assembly area for the monks of any Abbey. They met here daily to listen to a Chapter from the Rule of St. Benedict and organise the business of the day. The remains of the Chapter House at Reading are still impressive even today. It was one of the largest in the country and, as such, was used several times in the mid-15th century as the meeting place of the House of Commons when the plague forced them out of London. It was also the scene of several Legatine and archiepiscopal councils; and the meeting between King Henry II and Patriarch Heraclius of Jerusalem, in 1185. The Patriarch pleaded with Henry to accept the Crown of Jerusalem and save the city from the Saracens, but the King wisely declined.

Reading's Chapter House stands in the usual position on the east side of the cloister, almost adjoining the south transept of the Abbey Church, You can still make out the curving of its now collapsed vault. The roof above would once have soared to some thirty-six feet. The seats for the monks that once lined the walls are just discernible, while the central entrance with surrounding windows give some impression of the building's lost magnificence. Just use your imagination.



    Nash Ford Publishing 2001. All Rights Reserved.