What is the Reading Abbey Quarter?

The Reading Abbey Quarter was created to bring together the unique, cultural heritage that exists within the former grounds of Reading Abbey. The Reading Abbey Ruins and Gateway are both Grade I listed buildings and Scheduled Ancient Monuments.

Lying at the heart of Reading, the Abbey Quarter has witnessed almost nine-hundred years of history. The Quarter highlights a range of buildings and monuments of great historical and architectural significance. Notably the Quarter includes Reading Museum, the Town Hall, Reading Gaol, St. James' Church, the Forbury Gardens, and the remains of Reading Abbey.

Map of the Reading Abbey Quarter.

Reading Abbey Revealed

In 2009 the remains of Reading Abbey were closed to the public. This was due to their deteriorating condition being unsafe for the public.  The ‘Reading Abbey Revealed’ project was conceived by Reading Borough Council in 2010. In December 2015 the project won Heritage Lottery funding of £1.77m. This was match-funded by Reading Borough Council with £1.37m from ring-fenced development contributions. This made a total of £3.15m. The ruins will re-open to the public in Summer 2018 and the project will run until 2020.

Project Aims

  • The Abbey ruins will be conserved over 18 months, in five phases, starting in the south transept so the Abbey can be re-opened to the public in Summer 2018.
  • Vital internal and roof repairs to the Abbey Gateway. The museum’s Victorian Schoolroom will move into the Gateway in 2018.
  • Improved signage, marketing and interpretation of the Abbey Ruins and Reading Abbey Quarter
  • New information boards to explain the history of the site and how it was used – during the conservation work and after.
  • New directional signage to the Reading Abbey Quarter from the railway station, Oracle shopping centre area and car parks as well as signage and branding to define the Quarter’s boundaries.
  • Increased opportunities for volunteering from guided walks, specialised museum tours, costumed interpretation, events and research into the Abbey’s history and effect on the town.
  • Create opportunities for the public to learn new things about the Abbey and increase their enjoyment and appreciation of the site.
  • Opportunities to raise revenue such as a wedding venue or from theatre performances, to make the Abbey Ruins sustainable and for future maintenance costs.