Reading history: Fascinating story of Reading Abbey

That is just one of the notable events that happened in the Abbey prior to its destruction.

When Matilda, King Henry’s daughter invaded England in the late summer of 1139 to fight for the crown from King Stephen, Henry’s nephew, she went straight to Reading to see her father’s tomb. The people of Reading received her enthusiastically. 

There was a castle on the Abbey grounds used by King Stephen, which was destroyed by his successor King Henry II. 

In 1185 the patriarch of Jerusalem and Roger des Moulin, the grand master of the Knights Hospitaller went to the Abbey to see King Henry II with his council and King William of Scotland to ask for money for the crusades, but money was not granted. 

Just before the Battle of Crecy in 1346, King Edward III took his son Thomas of Woodstock to the Abbey, pretending to go to a jousting tournament. They were really there to get financial contributions from the Abbey for an invasion of France, of which a great quantity was given. 

King Edward III’s son John of Gaunt married Blanch of Lancaster at the Abbey on May 19, 1359.

The Abbey was also a venue for the English Parliament, which met at irregular intervals. 

Parliaments were held by King Henry VI in 1439-1440, and 1452-1454, and then by his successor King Edward IV in 1466 and 1468.

Kind Edward attracted controversy when he announced his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville on Michaelmas in 1464. This angered Richard Neville, the 16th Earl of Warwick, who owned Caversham Park at the time. 

This article was written by historian Colin Describe and edited by Reading Chronicle staff. 

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