Heritage Open Days: Reading on Thames Festival 2018


heritageopendaysThe annual celebration of Reading’s numerous magnificent heritage locations takes place for the first time across two consecutive weekends, 6-9 and 13-16 September, whilst coinciding with the second Reading on Thames Festival, an event that champions Reading’s arts and culture inspired by its waterways heritage.

28 historic locations will be opening their doors for a series of free tours, walks, talks and special events. A particular highlight for 2018 will be the chance to hear about the recently completed conservation work undertaken to reopen Reading Abbey to the public, following its closure 10 years ago.

Heritage Open Days is England’s biggest heritage festival, and is a once-a-year opportunity allows you to discover Reading’s hidden and forgotten treasures with all the heritage buildings awaiting your exploration.

This year’s Heritage Open Days event focuses on “Extraordinary Women” to celebrate the centenary of the Universal Suffrage Act. Free guides tours of Reading, courtesy of Terry’s Reading Walkabouts cover over 30 famous and not so famous Reading women whilst the University’s Acacias offers the atmosphere of a Victorian gentleman’s residence to learn about Edith Morley, Britain’s first female professor and supporter of refugees.

Reading Abbey ‘Reading Museum’ will be offering a Jane Austen themed Abbey Gateway tour to find out about Jane’s only Abbey with Reading Gaol in background ChrisForseyperiod of formal education, at Reading Ladies Boarding School, which was located in the Gateway.

There is a wide range of events from creating your own postcard with letter presses in an activity suitable for all ages, to learning about the Green Park Wind Turbines. There will also be tours of the magnificent Caversham Court Gardens, including sensory tours for the visually or hearing impaired (available on request), as well as the opportunity to find out about your own ancestors with the Centre for Heritage and Family History, newly opened this year.

There are a number of varying guided walks around historic areas of Reading for a variety of interests. From a slow and steady walk around the many industrial sites of Reading to a walk of the Conservation Area that covers the Georgian and Victorian development of Reading; and the Abbey Quarter Sculpture Walk through the Forbury and Abbey Ruins which are full of sculptures both ancient and modern.

Reading has many historic places of religious worship that offer special events; Greyfriars is the most complete example of Franciscan architecture in Britain, St James’s Church was Pugin’s first church design or visit Reading Synagogue designed in a Moorish style.

maphodReading has been a waterfront town for well over a thousand years. Heritage Open Days are also part of the Reading-on-Thames Festival (6-16 September) which takes inspiration from Reading’s wonderful waterways’ heritage. There will be outdoor spectaculars, exhibitions, walks and talks throughout the ten day festival including the Reading Film Trail curated by The London Short Film Festival; The High Sheriff of Berkshire’s Concert: The London Mozart Players; and GRRRL presenting a bespoke, electronic collaboration that promises to be the live performance event of the year.

Reading UK has published free map guide to Heritage Open Days in Reading which can be picked up from libraries and leisure centres. Full details of all the events/locations can be found at www.heritageopendays.org.uk. For more information on the Reading-on-Thames Festival, visit www.readingonthamesfestival.org.


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