The Friends of Reading Abbey

Reading Terrorist Attack

A serious stabbing incident took place in the Forbury Gardens, Reading, on Saturday 20 June 2020, which left three dead and a further three requiring treatment in hospital. This was later categorised by Thames Valley Police as a terrorist attack. The attack took place within the Abbey Quarter, near to the site of the North Gate, and in that part of the historic Abbey precinct that has always been open to public access and used for fairs and entertainment. The three who died have now been named as James Furlong, 36, teacher and head of history, government and politics at The Holt School in Wokingham; Joe Ritchie-Bennett, 39, originally from Philadelphia who had lived in the UK for 15 years; and David Wails, 49, a scientist who specialised in clean energy. The attacker ran away but was apprehended by the police in Friar Street, and is now in custody.

News of the incident has spread internationally. This is a text sent by a former doctoral history student at Reading University, a US citizen currently in Africa:

"This attack took place in the grounds of the former Reading Abbey. When I was doing my PhD at Reading in the 90s I used to walk the abbey grounds (well some, the rest are under the prison) for inspiration. I'm thinking of all my Reading friends today."

Many of us are members of FORA because we share happy and inspiring memories of time spent in the Forbury Gardens and Abbey Ruins. At 7.00pm on Saturday evening, when the attack took place, the Gardens were full of people enjoying a sunny evening in the Gardens, as local people have done for centuries. It is so sad that this attack has taken place in this special place for Reading. Our thoughts are with all affected.

The Friends aim to aid the preservation of the Ruins of the Abbey for the enjoyment of all, and to spread knowledge and public awareness of its history

Welcome to the website of the Friends of Reading Abbey. Here you can find information about the organisation and how to join us, and about the Abbey ruins and the history of Reading Abbey. We will keep the front page updated with details of outings and other events organised for members.