Leading Attractions of Reading

The following is a run-down of some of the popular attractions of Reading. They include great historical and romantic venues that visitors to Reading should not miss.

1. Reading Abbey Ruins & Forbury Gardens
Located between the River Kennet and the park, the Reading Abbey Ruins & Forbury Gardens are a wonder to behold.

The Abbey, founded by no less than Henry I, was once one of England's most significant religious and political centres. In fact, Henry I was buried near its high altar in 1136. Many of the historic buildings of the Abbey can still be seen there today, notably, St Laurence's Church and the Gateway. The ruins themselves provide a remarkable view of the abbey. Visitors can drop in free of charge during daylight hours.

Meanwhile, during a bygone era, the beautiful formal gardens were a part of Reading Abbey as well. They were restored with great fanfare and reopened in Spring 2005.

2. Museum of Reading
Located in the Victorian Town Hall on Blagrave Street in Central Reading, the museum gives great insight into the area's history, dating back to the time of Reading Abbey and the Roman city at Silchester to the development of Reading's railways and its 3Bs (Biscuits, Beer & Bulbs) economy. The museum open from Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

3. Caversham
This suburb is located north of the Thames River and across the river from Reading. It has been cited in the Guinness Book of Records as a place where some of the earliest evidence of mankind in England was discovered.

When visiting Caversham, visitors should not miss the Holy Well, which is located on Priest Hill.

There are three crossing points to Caversham: Caversham Bridge, Reading Bridge and the pedestrian-only Caversham Lock. A fourth crossing point, Sonning Bridge, is located a few miles east of Caversham.

Although it falls under the unitary authority of Reading, Caversham has historically been a part of Oxfordshire until 1911. Its key districts include the residential Caversham Heights, the shopping and residential area known as Caversham, the residential and light industrial Lower Caversham and the residential Caversham Park (also known as Caversham Park Village), which was developed in the 1960s.

4. Goring and Streatley
These two villages are best known for their breath-taking views and country walks. They are located at the Berkshire and Oxfordshire boundary, clustered around the Goring and Streatley Bridge, a road bridge that connects the twin villages of Goring-On-Thames, in the county of Oxfordshire. The present bridge was constructed in 1923.

Goring and Streatley feature a number of quaint thatched cottages and pubs. They are also known for the Goring Gap, which boasts of outstanding views from above surrounding hilltops.

5. Basildon Park
Located at Lower Basildon about seven miles from Reading (tel. no. 984-3040), Basildon Park boasts of an elegant Palladian mansion that was constructed in 1776-83. Its interiors feature an elegant staircase and original delicate plaster work. The so-called pleasure grounds, which date back to the early 19th century, are now being restored. Meanwhile, the parkland has a number of way marked trails for travellers to explore. Visitors can reach Basildon Park by road or via the Thames Travel 132 bus from Reading. The park is open from April to October, Wednesdays to Sundays, from 12 noon to 5:30pm. Adults have to pay £4.70 while children pay £2.30. Admission is free to National Trust members.

6. Mapledurham House and Watermill
Located at Mapledurham, about four miles west of Reading (tel. no. 972-3350).

Mapledurham village is nestled in the valley of the River Thames, below the Goring Gap, and exudes a special charm all its own. Its cottages, church, almshouses and mansions boast of a decidedly Elizabethan appeal, while the old brick and flint walls of the Watermill easily conjure images of Mapledurham's past, especially once you take a look at the flour which the mill still produces (from wheat ground by traditional millstones) and sells to this day

The Mapledurham Gurney, an old manor house, retains a historical village pattern that has now become quite rare.

Mapledurham House and Watermill is a mere 15 minute drive from Reading ans is also accessible by boat. It is open during Easter up to September, Saturdays and Sundays, from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

7. Silchester Roman Town
Located at Silchester, about eight miles from Reading. Known as Calleva Atrebatum, the city of Silchester was an important venue during the Roman era and a significant find for archaeology enthusiasts. Today it is an isolated place, perhaps as isolated as any place in south-east England. Although a complete ring of city walls still stands to this day, as does an old amphitheatre and mediaeval church, Silchester is such an isolated place that you are likely to share the view only with cows. However, it's still a great place for lovers to explore. The Silchester Roman town is open every day, from sunrise to sunset. Admission is free.

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