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the inner gateway


The Inner Gateway as painted by Paul Sandby around 1800. The original painting is in the Museum of Reading. Copyright Reading Museum Service (Reading Borough Council). All rights reserved. 
The Inner Gateway which stood between the Forbury area open to the public and the monks' area with the Abbot's House. 

This Gateway continued in use after the Abbey was dissolved. In the later 18th century it housed the Abbey School for Girls whose renowned pupil, Jane Austen, was taught here for a time. There are many early illustrations of the Gateway showing the building alterations to it; by 1861 it had become so dilapidated that it fell down in a thunderstorm. The famous architect Sir Gilbert Scott was commissioned to rebuild it.

The inner gateway was the place where meetings between the Abbey and the town took place. The Abbot was responsible for running the town, collecting taxes, administering justice. The Mayor was chosen ultimately by the Abbot but he came to an arrangement whereby the townspeople put forward three names and the Abbot chose from these. Click on the thumbnail picture to see a large size mage of the election of the Mayor in the Inner Gateway.

Click to see the large picture of the Abbot and the Mayor of Reading

You can read more about Jane Austen at the school in the Abbey Gateway in :-

Corley T A B 1996, Jane Austen's schooldays, Jane Austen Society Annual Report 10-20. 

Corley T A B 1998 Jan Austen's "real, honest, old-fashioned Boarding-school: Mrs La Tournelle and Mrs Goddard. Women's Writing vol 5, no 1, 113-130.

Copyright Reading Museum Service from "Reading Abbey", published by Reading Museum & Art Gallery 1988.

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