views updated May 17 2018

Reading. County town of Berkshire, situated where the river Kennet joins the Thames. A small borough by 1086, it grew partly thanks to Henry I's foundation of a major Cluniac abbey (1121), where he was buried. The abbey dominated the town until the dissolution (1539), and not until 1542 did Reading become an autonomous borough. From the 14th to the 17th cents. it flourished through cloth-making: it was temporarily the eleventh wealthiest English town under Henry VIII, and Archbishop Laud was the son of a Reading clothier. The town suffered badly in the Civil War; was only of modest importance in the 18th cent.; but revived as an industrial town in the 19th (‘Biscuitopolis’).

David M. Palliser


views updated May 29 2018

Reading City in s central England, at the confluence of the Thames and Kennet rivers; county town of Berkshire. The area was occupied by the Danes in the 9th century. Industries: ironware, engineering, electronics. Pop. (1994 est.) 138,503.