Reading Abbey


Time Period:

Reading Abbey in Berkshire was very important during Medieval times, with royalty married and buried here. It was founded in 1121 by King Henry I and was an abbey for over 400 years until the Dissolution of the Monasteries.  After that, the abbey became a Royal lodging, a town hall, a grammar school. In the 1800s, a prison was built over part of the ruins. 

Top Story

Reading Abbey was built on the instruction of King Henry I in 1121 but the construction wasn’t fully finished until another 200 years later! Unsurprisingly, Henry died before it was finished, during a hunting trip over in Normandy, and his body was to be returned to Reading Abbey to be buried. However, because of the lengthy journey between France and England, and the decomposition of the body, Henry’s entrails, heart, eyes and brain were buried in France, whilst the rest of him was returned. One story suggests that the man who removed Henry’s head to retrieve the brain died because of the fumes coming from his body! 

Click here for an extra pre-visit information sheet for Reading Abbey.

Curious Discovery

It is said that the oldest song documented in history was written at Reading Abbey in 1240. Can you find out the name of that song?

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