Archive of The Friends of Reading Abbey Lectures & Events         


Date Subject Speaker

Thurs. 2nd Nov. - Sat. 18th Nov. 2017The new play, Matilda the Empress, from local theatre company Reading Between the Lines was performed in St James Church, Forbury Road.
Sat. 27th Nov. 2017Reading Museum's "Tea and Talks at Two" series: Professor Peter Stoneley's talk 'Garden Party and Prison Cell - Oscar Wilde in Reading'. Details can be seen on the Museum's Abbey Quarter website. Professor Peter Stoneley
Sat. 4th Nov. 2017Reading Museum's "Tea and Talks at Two" series: Professor Anne Lawrence's talk 'Science and Magic within the Monastery'. Details including how to book can be seen on the Museum's Abbey Quarter website. Professor Anne Lawrence
Sat. 28th Oct. 2017The Friends of Reading Abbey AGM was held in the Waterhouse Chamber in Reading Town Hall at 2.30pm. After the AGM there was an illustrated talk on the Reading Abbey Revealed Project and the works now taking place to conserve the Abbey Ruins and Gateway. The talk was given by Matthew Williams, Reading Museum Manager and the Project's specialist conservation architect, Giles Pritchard (Design Manager - Heritage Architecture, HCC Architects)
Documents for the meeting: Agenda ; Minutes of 2016 AGM ; Secretary's report for 2016/17
A write-up and photos of the event can be seen on the Look Back at Past Events page.
Matthew Williams &
Giles Pritchard
Sat. 7th Oct. 2017Reading Museum's "Tea and Talks at Two" series: Dr Ron Baxter will give a talk 'Blood and Bones: the Veneration of Relics at Reading Abbey'. Details including how to book can be seen on the Museum's Abbey Quarter website. Dr Ron Baxter
Sat. 20th May - 23rd Sept. 2017Exhibition at Reading Museum about the Abbey Quarter and ruins.
Also please note the following tours are held:
i) Museum Gallery Tours led by volunteer guides take place on Saturdays at 12.00 noon. These will include updates about the Abbey Quarter. More information can be seen at Gallery Tours.
ii) Exhibition Short Tours are held every Wednesday and Saturday at 11.15am in the Sir John Madejski Art Gallery, Reading Museum. More information can be seen at Exhibition Short Tours.
Fri. 15th Sept. 2017A performance of 'Reading's Royal Burial, The Life and Death of Reading's King' was held at the Oracle Riverside. Information on the Reading-on-Thames festival website. Photos of the performance's Royal Burial can be seen here: royalburial1 , royalburial2 , royalburial3 . Photos courtesy of Toby Davies, Reading Between the Lines and Stewart Turkington, Reading-on-Thames Festival.
Fri. 8th & Sat. 9th  Sept. 2017 Heritage Open Days, Reading Abbey Quarter Tours - organised by Reading Museum. Also, John and Lindsay Mullaney gave talks in St James' Church on these two days - details
Sat. 2nd Sept. 2017Abbey Afternoon at the Library: Talks by two local historians in Reading Central Library on the history of Reading Abbey. Mike Cooper & John Mullaney
Sat. 22nd July 2017Reading Museum's "Tea and Talks at Two" series: Joy Pibworth gave a talk 'Introducing Jane Austen', highlighting her connections with places in Reading and the surrounding area. This talk took place a few days after the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's death on 18th July 1817 in Winchester. Joy Pibworth
Tues. 4th July 2017FORA Annual Outing. This year's outing had a Jane Austen theme, as a former pupil of the school in Reading Abbey gate, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of her death. A very pleasant day was spent at various locations in Hampshire. An account of the day can be seen on the Look Back at Past Events page.
Sat. 17th June 2017Reading Museum's "Tea and Talks at Two" series: Harriet Mahood gave a talk on Reading Abbey Gatehouse in Context. Dr Harriet Mahood
Sat. 10th June 2017Reading Waterfest, organised by Reading Borough Council.
Some photographs of the Waterfest can be seen on the Look Back at Past Events page.
Fri. 31st Mar. 2017The Spring lecture was held in St Laurence's church, Friar Street, Reading. An excellent audience of over 70 people gathered to hear Joan Dils’ very interesting talk on the difficult period of the Reformation 1520 – 1560 relating to the parish of St Laurence. Photographs from the lecture can be seen at Photo1 , Photo2 and Photo3. Joan kindly made the notes of her lecture available to the Friends. They can be seen in this pdf file
Joan Dils
December 2016"Light Up Reading - Christmas 2016". There were two Abbey-related events: i) The "Abbey 3D Experience" in Town Hall Square, 12-16th Dec. 6pm-8pm, and ii) the Abbey Ruins "in a new light", Chestnut Walk, 1st-17th Dec. 6pm-7pm. Further information about the Abbey 3D Experience, supplied by Reading College whose students set the 3D Experience up, can be seen here
Photos of the illuminated Abbey Ruins can be seen here
Fri. 9th Dec. 2016The Reading Branch of the Historical Association arranged a lecture by Dr Ruth Salter from the University of Reading on "Reading Abbey - Saints, Miracles and Cure-seekers". The lecture was held in the lecture theatre of Reading School.
"After an introduction into both the Abbey’s foundation, and the role of saints’ cults in the medieval church, the lecture looked in more detail at the miracle collection for Reading’s most prized relic, the hand of St James the Greater, with particular attention given to the individuals miraculously cured by the saint in the twelfth century – an especially important time for Reading, where the Abbey and the cult of St James were in their early years."
Dr Ruth Salter
Sat. 29th Oct. 2016The Friends' AGM was held at 2.30pm in the Soane Space at the Old Town Hall. It was followed by a talk by Ron Baxter, author of the recently published "The Royal Abbey of Reading", on "Reading Abbey as a mediaeval Royal Palace". The minutes of the meeting can be seen here.Ron Baxter
Fri. 9th & Sat. 10th  Sept. 2016 Heritage Open Days, Reading Abbey Quarter Tours - organised by Reading Museum. The following account of the day appeared in the Reading Museum Volunteers newsletter:
Reading Abbey update Heritage Open Day Success! Reading Museum Staff and Volunteers successfully led tours around the Abbey Quarter as part of the Heritage Open Day. We received amazing feedback such as “Really interesting – looking at the remains will never be the same! Look forward to seeing more!” Plus visitor numbers on Saturday were through the roof at 896 people! Thank you to everyone who helped make the two days such a success!
#AbbeyTours online. This year our interns were Live Tweeting during our Abbey Quarter tours. You can get a feel for the tours and public images and feedback at:
Wed. 6th July 2016This year's outing was to Lewes Priory, the first Cluniac foundation in Britain, and included a guided tour of the Priory ruins and visits to the local church attached to the Priory (St John the Baptist, Southover) and to the Anne of Cleves House, also in Southover. It ended with a visit to Clayton church, north of Brighton, which is of Saxon foundation but was later granted to the Priory and features C12th wall paintings by the monks. The programme for the day can be seen here
~~ Photographs of the outing can be seen on the Look Back at Past Events page.
Sun. 19th June 2016Friends' Summer Party. This year the Summer Party will move to the Forbury Gardens, to celebrate the success of the Heritage Lottery bid. It will run from 2.00pm to 5.00pm on Father's Day. Please click for further information. A poster for the event is available here and details of the community singing of Sumer is icumen in here . Words of the song in Middle and Modern English can be seen here and a photograph of the original manuscript here .
~~ Photographs of the Summer Party can be seen on the Look Back at Past Events page.
~~ An article about the Party can be seen on the getreading website
~~ David Owen Norris wrote an article for BBC Music Magazine about the event. A copy of his article can be seen here
Sat. 11th June 2016The annual Reading Waterfest is this Saturday, 11th June. FORA will have a gazebo on Chestnut Walk (near to the Reredorter entrance to the Abbey Ruins - now closed) where we will have our display and will be handing out leaflets. This will be staffed by committee members and volunteers. If you are in Reading for Waterfest, do drop in and talk to us.
~~ Photographs of this year's Waterfest can be seen on Facebook and here . ~~
Fri.15th April 2016Talk on The Abbot in Late Medieval and Reformation England at St Laurence's Church, Friar St., Reading at 7.30pm.   A poster for the event can be seen hereDr Martin Heale
Sat. 24th Oct. 2015The AGM was held in the Wroughton Room at the Berkshire Record Office, 9 Coley Ave, Reading, RG1 6AF. After the AGM there was a talk on Monastic and Ecclesiastical Gatehouses. An article about the event can be seen here [Article updated with a summary of the talk, Feb. 2016]. The minutes of the AGM are available hereHarriet Mahood
Fri. 11 & Sat. 12  Sept. 2015 Heritage Open Days, Reading Abbey Quarter Tours. These were organised by Reading Museum. Also on Thursday 10th Sept, tours of the Museum stores.
Wed. 8th July 2015The Friends' annual outing was to Oxford. The programme for the outing can be seen here and an account of the day here. Prof. Brian Kemp
Sun. 21st June 2015 Summer Garden Party in Caversham Court Gardens. To see photos of this event and the Waterfest, please click here.
Sat. 13th June 2015 Reading Waterfest. The next occasion when the Abbey Ruins will be open to the public, under safety-controlled
(“hard hat”) conditions.
Fri. 10th April 2015 Reading Abbey and Catholicism. The venue for this lecture is St James' church, Forbury Road, ReadingJohn Mullaney
Sat. 21st March 2015 John Mullaney will give a talk on the writing of his book "Reading's Abbey Quarter" to the Reading Civic Society
at Watlington House, Watlington St, Reading, at 2.30pm.
John Mullaney
Sat. 25th Oct. 2014
AGM & talk on The Dissolution of the Monasteries, with local reference to Reading.    Photograph here.
Secretary's report 2013/14 here, statement of accounts to 31/08/14 here, statement of assets at 31/08/14 here,
draft meeting minutes here.
Prof. George Bernard
Fri. 12 Sept. &
Sat. 13 Sept. 2014
Reading Abbey Quarter Tours. Organised by Reading Museum.
Wed. 24th Sept. 2014Visit to Winchester. For programme details, please click hereProf. Brian Kemp
Sun. 22 June 2014Summer Garden Party in Caversham Court Gardens
Sat. 14 June 201415-minute tours of Reading Abbey Ruins. Organised by Reading Borough Council.
Fri. 11 April 2014Reading Abbey's Royal ConnectionsProf. Brian Kemp
Wed. 16 Oct. 2013Visit to Romsey Abbey and Wherwell PrioryProf. Brian Kemp
Fri. 5 April 2013Monastic Architecture - Reading Abbey in ContextKeith Hasted
Sat. 29 Oct 2011 AGM & Talk on the Medieval Chapels of Reading & Caversham Dr Julia Boorman
Mon. 20 June 2011Visit to Lewes PrioryDr Anthony Freeman
Fri. 15 April 2011Medieval ReadingDr Margaret Yates
Sat. 30 Oct. 2010AGM & Ruins Stabilisation ProjectFiona Moss
Fri. 9 April 2010Cluniac Abbeys in Britain & abroad Helen Poole
Sat. 24 Oct.2009 AGM & Talk on Monastic Buildings of 19 C. English Revival Abbot Geoffrey Scott
Wed. 24 June 2009 Visit to Malmesbury Abbey & Crudwell Church
Fri. 3 April 2009Current state of Reading Abbey SiteFiona MacDonald
Sat. 18 Oct. 2008AGM, followed by "A Visit to Santiago de Compostela"Joan Dils
Sat. 28 June 2008Visit to Pamber End & remains of priory church
Fri. 28 March 2008Restoration of ancient churchesBob Bennett MBE