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The Abbey Mill Arch
behind Reading Public Library
 
 
The milling of corn was a lucrative business in Medieval England and one of which Reading Abbey took great advantage. Having access to the a small natural stream, still called the "Holy Brook," which runs through (and under) the town, the monks built themselves a strong stone mill, near the bustling Abbey Wharf, in the late 12th century.

The sides of the Holy Brook were artificially narrowed before the mill to speed up the fast-flowing waters. These turned the underside of the Abbey Mill wheel at a point where the water-level dropped some five feet to build up a head of water. So successful was the business that it outlasted the Abbey by four hundred and twenty years! Though most of the building has been demolished, the ancient mill-arch still straddles the Holy Brook behind Reading's Central Library in King's Road (where the Abbey Stables once stood).

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