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Reading History, United Kingdom

Reading, in Berkshire, is thought to be the largest town in Britain, and it is also the country’s most important tourist attraction. A large crowd of music lovers gathers in Reading every year for the Reading Festival, the largest music festival in the UK after Glastonbury, but there are plenty of tourists who visit the city all year round. Throughout the history of the United Kingdom, Reading has been an important cultural and commercial centre. Nowadays, there are many fascinating historical sites in Reading that are worth seeing, but there is plenty of other entertainment as well: pubs, restaurants and a large shopping district. This Reading History Guide will go over the most important events that shaped the past of this charming city.

Reading History Guide - Foundation and Middle Ages

Reading was founded at the confluence of the rivers Thames and Kenneth around the 8th century by an Anglo-Saxon tribe. The settlements was later ravaged by Vikings, but by the time of the Norman Conquest, Reading had recovered enough to be designated a borough in the Domesday Book. One of Reading’s most important landmarks, Reading Abbey, was founded in 1121 by Henry I, and it quickly became a place of pilgrimage. The Abbey is the final resting place of Henry I, the first English king of England - this Reading History Guide recommends that you visit the ruins of the Abbey to gain a better understanding of the history of that period. By the 14th century, Reading was a flourishing trading centre. During the Black Death of 1348-1350, while London was being ravaged by the plague, the noble families fled to Reading, and the town became a sort of temporary capital.

Reading History Guide - 17th to 19th Century

By the 16h century, Reading was the largest and richest town in Berkshire, thanks to its blooming cloth trade. In addition to its commercial importance, Reading was the place of several significant political events. The town was occupied by Royalists during the 1642 English Civil War, and it was the site of the Second Battle of Reading during the Revolution of 1688. In the 18th century, Reading started becoming famous for its iron-work and for its brewing industry. The roads from Reading to London, Oxford and Cambridge were improved, and the better trading routes helped the town’s economy to develop further. In the second half of the 19th century, railway was introduced to Reading, and a few years later, it became the county town. In this period, Reading became a famous manufacturing center, jokingly referred to as being the producer of the ‘three B’s’: beer, bulbs and biscuits.

Reading History Guide - Modern Period

During the 20th century, Reading continued to grow and to expand. Many important and nationally recognized companies were established in the city, such as Miles Aircraft, and numerous hypermarkets and shopping centers. Nowadays, Reading is one of the most economically developed cities in the UK, and an important tourist destination as well. The city still retains its old-world charm, with its attractions such as thatched cottages, Victorian gardens and intriguing historical buildings.

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