"READING, comprises the parishes of St.
Mary, St. Lawrence, and St.
Giles, it is a market town, municipal and parliamentary borough,
and county town, county Berks, locally in the hundred of Reading, but
exercising separate jurisdiction, 39 miles S.W. of London by road, and
36 3/4 by the Great Western railway, on which it is a principal
station. There are also branch lines of the Great Western to Hungerford
and Basingstoke, and of the South-Eastern to Reigate, by which last the
main lines of the Great Western, South-Western, and South-Eastern are
connected. There is also water communication with most of the chief
ports of England by means of the Kennet and Avon canal and the river
Kennet, which last is navigable from Reading for vessels of 120 tons
burden, and has commodious wharves on its banks."
National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003
Other descriptions can be
found from other periods in various trade
covering Berkshire from the early 19th century onwards, from Berkshire
FHS, and from A Vision of
Britain Through Time.
In addition to those listed on
home page, see the Research
Wiki from Family Search
(the Church of Latter-day Saints (Genealogical Society of
A list of churches within the area can be found on the Genuki
Further information about only some of the churches can be found
- Church of England:
- Greyfriars Church is former Franciscan friary, the oldest Franciscan church still in use in the UK and a Grade I listed building.
- The Holy Trinity, Reading. See History of Holy Trinity Church, Reading,
c1910?, available from Reading
Stephen's building was demolished and St John's
building has been taken over by the Polish
RC Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1981. The residual
combined to form St. John
Stephen in a new building.
- St Giles.
For the history of the
split within St Giles to form the Castle Street Chapel (later St Mary's
Episcopal), see The History of the Congregational Churches
in Berks, etc.
- St Lawrence,
see A History of the Municipal Church of St.
Lawrence, Reading, 1883 by Charles Kerry is also
available from Berkshire FHS.
- Congregational: For
early history (and some pictures), see The History of the Congregational Churches
in Berks, etc.
Street Chapel - founded as an
Independent Chapel in 1707 with new frontage in 1892, then
Congregational and finally URC, now closed and
in 1995 became a bookshop.
See booklet Broad Street Chapel, Reading, 1662-1912
by Walter John Brain, available from Reading
Central Library. Records are held by the BRO (ref. D/EBA), see Vol 69, 2014 page 4 of the Berkshire
Church, now closed, used to stand at the corner of Sidmouth Street
Queen's Road. It was demolished to make way for a hall of Residence in
Street Congregational Methodist Chapel - What God hath
wrought: a brief history of Hosier Street Congregational Methodist
Chapel, Reading, 1854-1954, available
Street Congregational Church - formed in 1836 when St Mary's Church,
Castle Street, Reading reverted to the Church of England. Those
members who wished to remain Independent rented rooms in Bridge Street,
and in 1837 built a Congregational Chapel in Castle Street, almost
opposite their former church. In 1886, the church amalgamated
the Augustine Church in Friar Street. The church declined in the
1950s, and closed in 1956. The proceeds of the sale of the building,
some of the church contents, were given to a new church to be built on
the Southcote estate (later Grange Free Church).
St Chapel (previously Salem chapel, Independent Chapel), started in
1808 at Salem Court, Minster St, moved in 1820 to London St,
dissolved 1827. Some
birth registers at the TNA.
Chapel, Oxford Road, c1820 to c1830.
Chapel, Friar St, 1869 to c1887.
- Reading Park United Reformed (formerly Congregational)
Church: archive 1907-2008 is held by the BRO
- St Paul’s Presbyterian (later United Reformed)
Church, Reading, archive 1897-2000 is held by the BRO
(D/N43). The Church was built
at the expense of local businessman William McIlroy, and closed in
- Reading cemeteries:
Reading Borough Council has records of burials dating back to the
mid 1840s and cremation records dating back to 1932. If you're
searching for a record of someone who died in Reading or the
surrounding areas, they may have a record of when and where they were
either cremated or buried.
- Parish registers for Reading St Mary 1538 - 1812 (a digital
version of the original books publish in 1891-92 containing
transcriptions of the original registers) are available on CD from the Berkshire FHS shop
Reading Borough Council's archived
records are held by the BRO,
including: the accounts and other financial records of Reading borough,
1835-1975, and the Local Board of Health, 1850-1891 (R/FB). They
include, as well as the main series of general accounts,
rent accounts of borough property, naming the tenants,
1886-1891; accounts of Reading Tramways, 1901-1947, Reading
Gas Company, 1904-1949; and staff superannuation registers,
1924-1986. The listed the accounts of Reading and Earley
School Boards, 1871-1903 (R/FE1), and the borough Education
Committee, 1903-1945, including registers of teachers, 1903-1939
(R/FE2). There are also accounts for some individual Reading schools,
1872-1910 (R/FE3). Accounts of the Reading Improvement
Commissioners, 1826-1846 (R/AS). Additional chamberlains’
accounts, 1822-1835 (R/FA3). Quit rentals (money owed by
owners to the Corporation under the terms of the borough charter),
1611-1612, 1753-1801 (R/FA11). Fee farm accounts (money paid annually
by the Corporation
to the Crown), 1567-1640 (R/FA12). Constables’
accounts, 1645-1646 (R/FA13). Additional items relating to
borough’s quarter sessions court, 1603-1777 (R/JQ).
of poor law settlement examinations, 1768-1777.
Reading in the Doomsday
Book from the BRO.
Reading was in the Reading Union. For more information,
- Reading was in the hundred of Reading.