Heritage Open Days 2021 in Reading

A tasty treat: 10 - 19 September 2021

Coleywalk DSC 0285

This September, Reading’s heritage will be on show for 10 days as part of England’s annual heritage festival, Heritage Open Days. Celebrating our buildings, natural and cultural heritage, this year there will be a fantastic range of free in-person and digital events to showcase the rich stories that make Reading such a unique place to live, work and visit.

The optional theme for Heritage Open Days 2021 is Edible England and a number of Reading’s events will tell the story of our local culinary heritage. Tasty offerings in Reading include getting creative with fruit and veg at Brock Keep, tours of the historic kitchen gardens at Caversham Court Gardens, a lost jam factory and no-longer pubs in Castle Hill and Coley, exploring food in Ancient Greece online with the Ure Museum, Edible Reading talks and object handling at Reading Museum or the roof top food garden at RISC.

Other events taking place as part of Heritage Open Days in Reading include open churches and historic office buildings not usually open to the public, talks on building conservation, audio tours of London Street and guided tours of Oxford Road, history walks of Woodley and an art exhibition inspired by Readings last gasometer.

Nigel Horton-Baker, Reading UK, who produce a guide to Reading’s heritage Open Days events, said: “The fascinating history of Reading, its people, places and its food will take centre stage for 10 days in September as part of the national festival of heritage, Heritage Open Days. Thank you to everyone who has organised events this year. After a difficult 18 months, it is great to see so many in-person events as part of the festival, but there are also some intriguing digital events to watch from your own home or explore on your own.”

All Heritage Open Days events are free to attend, but some need booking in advance due to small capacities.  

Reading event listings:-

17 Castle Street Reading [In Person]

16th century house used as an inn, doctor’s residence and surgery. Once owned by a Reading Mayor, who promoted the bill to lay the paving slabs in Reading - the first one was laid outside this building in 1785. The building has been used as a solicitors practice since 1971. Original items retained include diamond chimneys, coach and horse mounting block, shoe carving on the beam timbers. Access to areas not normally open to the public during the working day.                   

Rowberry Morris & Co, 17 Castle Street, RG1 7SB           

Sat 11 Sep - 0930 – 1630

Brock Keep [In Person / Edible England]

A tour round the historic former armoury and gatehouse which is now home to artist studios and art gallery. Get creative with locally sourced fruit and veg to make your own prints and sculptures. Completed in 1877, the building is a fine example of a Victorian keep built to aid recruitment and to increase local pride.   

Open Hand Open Space Ltd, 571 Oxford Road, RG30 1HL

Sat 18 & Sun 19 Sep, 11:00 – 18:00

Caversham Court Allotments     [In Person / Edible England]

A guided tour of the historic kitchen garden (now allotments) at Caversham Court to see how our diet and gardening have changed over the centuries. Learn about early varieties of vegetables, fruits and herbs and see how the English diet changed over the centuries as new plants came in from all over the world, and gardeners adapted their methods.

Caversham Court Gardens, Church Road, Caversham, RG4 7AD  

Sat 11 Sep & Sun 12 Sep, tours at 14:00, 15:00 and 16:00

Booking essential - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/caversham-court-allotments-tour-tickets-161239522753  

Castle Hill & Coley Heritage Walkabout [In Person / Edible England]

A circular walk taking in a lost jam factory, mansions and slums, listed buildings, Reading FC’s first pitch, lost pubs, brick making and much more. Plus an easy to make jam recipe. Donations to local charities accepted.

Meet - Corner of Coley Place and Castle Street, RG1 7ST

Sun 12 Sep 09:30, Wed 15 Sep 09:30

Booking essential - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/hods-castle-hill-coley-heritage-walkabout-tickets-161197834061  

Caversham Road: An area shaped by Victorian aesthetics and innovation [Online & In Person]

A guided walk around a Victorian townscape that still has many traces of its rich industrial past as well as plenty of original architectural features.      Come and see an area where department store and brick magnates left their mark and the bicycles for the British Army's first cycling regiment were made.  Approx 60 minutes. 

Meet at The Moderation, 213 Caversham Road, RG1 8BB

Fri 17 & Sat 18 Sep, 11:00

Booking essential - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/caversham-road-an-area-shaped-by-victorian-aesthetics-and-innovation-tickets-161616448147  

Walk is also available online - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wAZZ7y-9Ls           

Celebrate with Father Willis [In Person]

Organ music and chat from the 'Father' Willis organ at The Town Hall. Marking the centenary of the Berkshire Organist's Association with a brand-new work inspired by music from Reading Abbey, which celebrates its 900th Anniversary.

Reading Town Hall, RG1 1QH

Sat 11 Sep, 13:00 – 14:00

Eat, pray, love in Antiquity at the Ure Museum [Online / Edible England]

The Ure Museum and our colleagues at the Dept of Classics (University of Reading) will post a short video every day to explore food in Antiquity: ancient diet, depiction of food in our collection, cook-along recipes, and much more!              By addressing trading routes, written sources, ancient ingredients and recipes while exploring the Ure Museum collection, we will learn how eating was turned into a ritual that celebrated all your senses!

View anytime 10-19 September - http://collections.reading.ac.uk/ure-museum/          

Food from the archives [Online/Edible England]

Berkshire Record Office brings a culinary taste of Berkshire's past to you online.  Take a look at a recipe from Berkshire's past and have a go at making it. Discover how easy it is to follow a historical recipe.


View online anytime from 10 -19 Sep

Green Park Wind Turbine           [In Person]

See the Green Park wind turbine up close and personal, find out what it is, what it does, how it works and experience a few experiments too. Suitable for all age ranges.

300 South Oak Way, RG2 6AD

Fri 10 Sep – 19:00, Sun 12 Sep 16:00, Sat 18 Sep 17:00

Booking essential - greeneducation@hotmail.co.uk  

Hidden Recipes from My Ancestral Home by local artist Caroline Streatfield

Recipe tasting and pick up a recipe card from the High Street Heritage Action Zone project, plus tours of The Pavilion, which used to be and still is a cinema and has the fixings from 1929.

LifeSpring Church, The Pavilion, 143-145 Oxford Road, RG1 7UY

Sat Sep 11, 11.30 - 13.30

High Street Sound Walk – A Reading of London Street [Online / self guided]

Artists Aundre Goddard and Richard Bentley’s sound walk combines music, sound and audio drama to tell the story of London Street’s history and community. Take your smart phone to London Street (or listen at home) to enjoy a self-guided, immersive sound walk. ‘A Reading of London Street’ is a dream-like journey past the Black History Mural and Global Café to immerse yourself in the evocative sounds that capture the street’s unique identity, from the historic Huntley and Addington House to the vibrant music of the street’s iconic nightspots.

Listen anytime from 10 -19 September: https://historicengland.org.uk/get-involved/high-street-culture/sound-walks/           

Landlords and Conservation. A conflict of Interests? [In Person]

Lloyd Turner, of Reading based Turner Property, will talk about the challenges  of being a landlord who provide homes for students and professionals in HMOs whilst also seeking to conserve and improve, neglected heritage buildings.          

The Changing Room, Thames Lido, Napier Road, RG1 8FR

Sat 12 Sep, 18:30 – 19:30

Booking essential - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/landlords-and-conservation-a-conflict-of-interests-tickets-161202413759 Voluntary donation optional

Local Library Treasures – Readings’ A, B, C [Online/EdibleReading]

A short film with a food theme looking at more of the library's treasures.  A is for Reading Abbey in its 900th anniversary (the library is situated on its stables and it brewed beer),B is for beer and biscuits (the library has the in-house magazines for Simonds and Huntley & Palmer) and C is for Cock’s Reading Sauce (made not far from the current library building).

Available anytime from 10 -19 Sep – whatsonreading.com

Look Hear – Oxford Road Tour

Experience the unseen culture, character and heritage of Reading’s Oxford Road from a guide with intimate knowledge of the area. To accompany Baker Street Production’s audio project Look, Hear, Oxford Road, this guided walking tour will take you round a small section of the Oxford Road and show you its rich heritage.

Sat 11 Sep 11:00, Thurs 16 Sep 10:00 & Sun 19 Sep 15:00

Location start/finish: Outside the Biscuit Factory, Queens Walk RG1 7QE. All Ages.

Booking essential - https://www.readingmuseum.org.uk/museum/whats-on  

Look Up to History in Reading Town Centre! A Proposed Heritage Interpretation App [In Person]

Joe Doak’s talk will detail how a mobile app(lication) could be developed to reveal, interpret and explain the historical and cultural significance of buildings in Reading Town Centre. Joe Doak was, until last year, Associate Professor of Urban Planning & Development at the University of Reading.

Thames Lido, Kings Meadow Baths, Napier Road, RG1 8FR

Fri 17 Sep, 18:30 – 19:30

Booking essential - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/look-up-to-historyin-reading-town-centre-a-proposed-heritage-interpret-tickets-161204201105

Reading Museum - Edible Reading [in person/ Edible England]

Join curator Brendan Carr to discover fascinating facts linked to the history of food in Reading. Delve into the past of Huntley & Palmers which made Reading a famous biscuit producing town and find out what exactly Cocks Reading Sauce was and how the ingredients were imported from all over the world - including anchovies from the Caspian Sea!

Blagrave St, Reading RG1 1QH

Fri 17 and Sat 18 Sep 14:00

Booking essential : www.readingmuseum.org.uk  

Reading Museum - Inset Training: Huntley & Palmers [online/Edible England]

In this virtual training session aimed at school staff, Reading Museum will focus on the history of the famous Huntley and Palmers biscuit factory and its connections with the development of the town of Reading.

Thurs 9 Sep 16:00 – 17:00 (teachers only)

Booking essential: museum.education@reading.gov.uk  

Reading Museum - Object Handling Talk: Food Through the Ages (in person/Edible England)

A 20-minute talk delivered by our enthusiastic team and an excellent opportunity to handle real objects from our collection to explore the importance of food through history, from Roman Britain to Huntley and Palmers biscuits. All ages.

Blagrave St, Reading RG1 1QH

Sat 11 Sep, 10:00 and 11:00

Booking essential - : www.readingmuseum.org.uk

Re-imagining the High Street Through Your Stories

Reading’s High Street Heritage Action Zone project invites you to explore the Oxford Road through exciting new free art projects! Funded by Historic England and Reading Borough Council. ‘Hidden Recipes From My Ancestral Home’ by Caroline Streatfield encourages you to explore the road’s exciting food shops to collect 17 special recipe cards written by local residents. Follow 12 QR codes placed along the road by Baker Street Productions to submerge yourself in a multi-sensory tour; “Look, Hear – Discover Oxford Road”. And visit ‘Through Your Eyes’, a new street art piece by Gemma Anusa that explores the stories and histories of the Oxford Road.

Available 10-19 September

No booking required


RISC Edible Roof Garden [In Person/Edible England]

Above the World Shop and Global café is a small edible roof forest garden developed to demonstrate sustainability and our dependence on plants.  All plants in the garden have an economic use for food, clothing, medicine etc. and come from all over the world. Demonstration of renewable energy, water harvesting and irrigation systems.          

35-39 London Street, RG1 4PS

Sat 11 & Sun 12 Sep 12:00 – 16:00

St Laurence’s Churchyard Tour

Join Barnaby Wheeler (HCC heritage architect) and Matthew Williams (Reading Museum) to explore one of Reading’s most historic spaces. Discover its links to the foundation and dissolution of Reading Abbey and hear about the 2015 restoration of the historic churchyard wall and this summer’s conservation of several ‘at risk’ 18th and 19th century chest tombs within the churchyard.

Meet at Queen Victoria’s statue.

Sat 11 Sep 10.30 – 11.30

Booking essential – www.readingmuseum.org.uk   

St Mary’s Episcopal Chapel [In Person / Edible England]

Find out about the memorials within the Chapel (plaques and window) and a display exploring the origins of Harvest Festival.  There will be a display of some of the pots and bottles found several years ago in a pit within the Chapel.

14 Castle Street, RG1 7RD

Fri 10 Sep, 10:00 – 14:00, Sat 11 Sep 09:30 – 17:30, Thurs 16 Sep 10:00 – 14:00, Fri 17 Sep 10:00 – 14:00 Sat 18 Sep – 09:30 -17:30

Terry’s Edible Reading Walkabout [In Person/Edible England]

A guided walk telling the story of the food Reading from pre-Victorian Times to the present. Featuring famous and the not so famous, products & manufacturers, unique restaurants & cafes, plus fascinating facts you may not of heard of! Donation to local charities accepted

Start from Queen Victoria Statue, near Town Hall Square, Blagrave Street, RG1 1QH

Thurs 16 Sep 09:30 & Sat 18 Sep 09:30

Booking essential - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/terrys-edible-reading-walkabout-guided-walk-tickets-161505281645?              

The Commons Feast, Museum of English Rural Life [In Person/Edible England]

The Commons Feast is a pot-luck style gathering focussed on the sharing of ideas around local, seasonal, wild, and foraged fare. On the day, the Commons project will provide free bread made locally using Levande Arkivet (a collection of over 80 sourdough cultures gifted by bakers around the world).   We need you, The MERL’s communities, to bring your recipes to swap and share. With your permission we will then copy and share these texts on the day. This feast will serve as a chance to consider how we nourish ourselves, our families, our communities, and our environment.  The event will also include workshops, demonstrations and family activities. Curated by Amanda Couch and Josefin Vargö. Funded by Arts Council England. Image designed by Kristen Fraser.

Saturday 18 September - 12.00-16.00 (bookable timeslots from 12.00-14.00 & 14.00-16.00)

Museum of English Rural Life Garden, Redlands Road, RG1 5EX

Booking essential - https://merl.reading.ac.uk/whats-on/

The Last Gasometer and Reading’s Changing Skyline [In Person]

Visit this themed art exhibition celebrating the ever-changing skyline of Reading and bidding a fond and final farewell to the last of our so familiar gasometers. 25 invited artists will respond in their own styles and media to this themed show, appropriately exhibited in the Turbine House with its view down the Kennet to that last gasometer (if it is still there)!

The Turbine House, Riverside Museum at Blake's Lock, Gas Works Road, RG1 3EQ

Fri 10 Sep – Sun 26 Sep, 10:00 – 18:00

The Shady Side of Town Centre Heritage Trees

Adrian Lawson, author, naturalist and environment campaigner and author of 'The Shady Side of Town. Reading's Trees' (2017), takes us on a guided walk looking at Reading's evocative and characterful Town Centre trees while reflecting on their important role in the amelioration of the changing climate.

Meet: St Mary's Butts

Sunday 19 September: 14:00

Booking essential: rtwn2011@gmail.com

Tilehurst Heritage Day  [In Person]

A celebration of local history set in a beautiful and historic church, incorporating displays of photos and artefacts; talks and information; tours of the building and churchyard.

St. Michael's Church, Reading, RG30 4JX

Sat 18 September, 10:00 - 16:00

Woodley History Walks

Two walks through Woodley. The two Saturday walks look at the old forge,  historic shops and house in Crockhamwell Road and the site of Woodley Green Farm. Start / finish at The Oakwood Centre.

The two Sunday walks look at St John's Church, Cobblers City and its old cottages. Start / finish at The Bull and Chequers.  The walks will last for 1-2 hours. Limited places.

Sat 11 Sep / Sat 18 Sep 10:00

Sun 12 / Sun 19 Sep 14:00

Booking essential:  07977 034552 / wokinghamsmith@gmail.com





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