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“If only they'd looked after it a bit better...”

Reading Abbey Ruins
Reviewed 19 January 2008

Reading Abbey was built by Henry I (founded in 1121) and he was also buried here. Sadly it hasn't been exactly looked after, though the ruins are pretty in a "romantic ruin" kind of way and give some idea of the impressiveness of the Abbey that once stood on this site. Henry I's grave was dug up and his bones scattered over the grounds so there is no actual grave, just a plaque. There is a model in the Museum of Reading that shows what the abbey looked like originally.

You can see the prison from here where Oscar Wilde was incarcerated in 1895 and about which he wrote the "Ballad of Reading Gaol". There is also a plaque with a song which I think was the oldest song ever written down - though I'm not quite sure why they bothered since the song is pretty naff.

The ruins are close to the centre of town but not easy to find. To get there go to the Forbury Gardens and take the passageway to the right as you go through the main entrance.

There is also a gatehouse from the abbey located opposite the main entrance to the Forbury Gardens, just over the road. This was the original location of the Abbey School attended by Jane Austen.

2  Thank gauly
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