Cloister style garden with Elizabeth Frink statue and Abbey and Prison in the distance

Just three days until Reading Abbey re-opens (#abbeymania) and up here on the hill what we most want to know is – ‘If the water supply for the Abbey came from the Whitley Conduit where did it arrive?’

A piece of lead piping about two inches (5cm) in diameter was found at Blandy’s wharf by the Kennet in the mid eighteenth century. It was thought that this was part of the pipework from the conduit to the Abbey but the pipe is long lost and there is no other physical evidence of the connection [ref 1]

The most likely location of any water supply would have been in the area of the cloister. This is now buried under later developments but its position can be seen in the digital model commissioned as part of the Reading Abbey revealed project.

Digital model of Reading Abbey looking north – the Kennet is in the foreground and the cloister in the centre of the image

The garden next to Abbey Walk (see photograph) has been laid out in the style of a cloister and in the approximate location of Reading Abbey’s cloister, so with a little imagination you can conjure up a water fountain here.

Links and References

  1. John Man, History and Antiquities, Ancient and Modern of the Borough of Reading p254.
  2. Edward Margrett, The Old Conduit at Whitley. Berks, Bucks & Oxon Archaeological Journal 14 1908-9
  3. Whitley Conduit Plaque features in Reading Museum display
  4. Reading Abbey Quarter
  5. Reading Waterfest and Reading Abbey Revealed