Reading can claim to be one of the major heritage sites in the south east. The RSA rank Reading in the UK top 16% for historic built environment, 7% for industrial heritage and top 2% for museums, archives and artefacts.
Reading is the burial place of King Henry I of England. His mausoleum, Reading Abbey, was one of the great medieval abbeys and is currently being conserved through the Reading Abbey Revealed project. Oscar Wilde and Jane Austen have strong links to the town, many of Britain’s famed Victorian architects, such as Soane, Waterhouse and Gilbert Scott, designed buildings in the town and a number of the great names of late industrial Britain are synonymous with Reading – the biscuits of Huntley and Palmer, the seeds of Sutton’s and the beer of Simonds.
Reading Museum is a great starting point for exploring Reading’s heritage. Reading Abbey is currently closed during the restoration process but is open for hard hat tours from time to time. The Museum of English Rural Life is the best place to learn about Britain’s agricultural and rural heritage following a £3 million investment. Readipop’s Heritage Trails are good self-guided ways of exploring the town and Reading always has lots to offer during Heritage Open Days.
For information on museums and heritage in Reading, see the A-Z of arts organisations.