The hallowing of Reading Abbey

The Hallowing of the Church at Reading Abbey by Thomas Becket in 1164. Oil on canvas by Stephen Reid – 1920 © Reading Museum (Reading Borough Council)

Henry I founded Reading Abbey in 1121 but it was not consecrated until 19 April 1164 during the reign of his grandson Henry II.  The ceremony was carried out by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket and was attended by the King and his noblemen.

It was Henry II who gave permission to Abbot William to enclose land in Whitley for a park ‘for the benefit of infirm monks and guests’ [ref 1].  When the monasteries were dissolved in 1539, Reading Abbey owned vast tracts of land in south Reading including Whitley Park and Whitley Manor.

Extract from Pride's map of Reading 1790

Extract from Pride’s Map of Reading 1790. ‘Horshoes’ at the junction of Long Barn Lane and Basingstoke Road, with Whitley Park to the north.


References & Links

  1. Kemp, Brian. Reading Abbey Cartularies Vol 2, charter 1206. Other charters 1207, 1208 and 1210 also relate to the creation of the park and the details have been translated. See also C F Slade, An Early Medieval Miscellany for Doris Mary Stenton, pp235-240.
  2. Two days to go before Reading Abbey re-opens – Did monks play at Rabson’s Rec?
  3. Reading Abbey Quarter – Reading Abbey Church
  4. Henry II at St Mary’s Minster, with Reading Between the Lines
  5. Reading Abbey in Reading Museum’s online collection