Top 10 facts about Reading

  1. Oscar Wilde was imprisoned in Reading Gaol in the late nineteenth century for homosexuality. While residing there, he wrote De Profundis and on his release penned The Ballad of Reading Gaol. In 2016, a series of artists, including Patti Smith and Ralph Fiennes hosted public readings of De Profundis in Reading Gaol to mark the suffering experienced by Wilde in his confinement.
  2. Reading Abbey was built by King Henry I of England as his final resting place. The Abbey in its pomp was one of the most imposing buildings in Europe. The Abbey Ruins reopened in 2018 following a major conservation project. Meanwhile, the search for the remains of the last un-found King of England continues on the site.
  3. Jane Austen was a school girl at Reading Ladies Boarding School. The Abbey Gateway, which housed the school, can be visited on organised tours.
  4. Reading has the longest river frontage of any local authority (Reading Borough Council) along the length of the River Thames.
  5. Reading is home to the world’s longest running rock festival, the Reading Festival.
  6. The Reading 2050 Vision sets out an ambition for Reading to become a City of rivers and parks, culture and diversity and a smart, sustainable place to live, work and visit by 2050.
  7. The University of Reading was founded in the 19th century as an extension college of the University of Oxford. It is now ranked as one of the top 200 universities in the world.
  8. Reading boasts the work of some of the greatest British Victorian architects - Sir John Soane, Sir George Gilbert Scott, Augustus Pugin and Alfred Waterhouse.
  9. Reading used to be known for the 3Bs – beer, bulbs and biscuits – which underpinned its industry in the industrial revolution. Huntley and Palmer’s biscuit factory was the largest in the world in its 19th century heyday.
  10. Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, was born in Reading’s Royal Berkshire Hospital - she shares Reading as her birth place with Ricky Gervais, Kate Winslett, Marianne Faithful and Jacqueline Bissett among others.

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