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Pictures of Reading

in the county of Berkshire

About Reading

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This town lies on the extremities of the Berkshire Downs and the Chiltern Hills at a point where the waters of the rivers Thames and Kennet meet making the River Thames a major river for the rest of its journey to the sea. It grew to importance during the Norman period, and in 1121 Henry I founded a Benedictine Abbey here, it is where he was buried in 1136. The town has many historic Royal connections, Thomas a' Becket consecrated a church here in the presence of Henry II, and later following the Dissolution Henry VIII granted the town its first Royal charter in 1542.

Reading flourished as a cloth making town, but this declined early in the 17th century when the Civil War left its mark. It was the opening of the Kennet and Avon Canal in 1810 and the eventual arrival of the railways in 1840 that were to turn the tide for Reading and it is upon these events that its fortunes where founded.

Today Reading is noted for its university and for its vast industries. Both its rivers are navigable, often gay with bright narrow boats coursing waters formerly the scene of barges laden with coal and other goods being transported from city to city. The tow paths of both the Kennet and Thames offer visitors the chance to discover lush river meadows made bright by the chatter of wildlife in both trees and water, and often you may come across unusual reeds and water-plants. From Reading during the summer you can take an enchanted boat journey to Mappledurham House or Henley-on-Thames, this is well worth the time for the amazing river scenery.

The town contains exceptional museums and art galleries, particularly notable are the abbey ruins burial place of Henry I. You should also see Reading Goal made famous by Oscar Wilde's Ballad of Reading Goal. In the Reading Museum and Art Gallery you can see a copy of the Bayeux Tapestry and then there is the Waterways Museum, this is sited at Blakes Lock close to the mouth of the Kennet and Avon Canal, this has numerous exhibits and is of interest to all ages.

Reading offers multi-cultural restaurants, excellent hotels, good entertainment and leisure facilities, plenty of shops, pubs and inns. Urban it might be but for those who look beyond that which rises towards the sky, there are many pleasant surprises.

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