The Royal Abbey of Reading

January 2016
50 colour, 137 black and white illustrations
407 pages
24x17 cm
Boydell Studies in Medieval Art and Architecture
ISBN: 9781783270842
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC ARC005000, HIS037010, REL015000

The Royal Abbey of Reading

Ron Baxter

First full-length survey of Reading Abbey, one of the most important ecclesiastical buildings of the Middle Ages.
Reading Abbey was built by King Henry I to be a great architectural statement and his own mausoleum, as well as a place of resort and a staging point for royal itineraries for progresses in the west and south-west of England. From the start it was envisaged as a monastic site with a high degree of independence from the church hierarchy; it was granted enormous holdings of land and major religious relics to attract visitors and pilgrims, and no expense was spared in providing a church comparable in size and splendour with anything else in England.
However, in architectural terms, the abbey has, until recently, remained enigmatic, mainly because of the efficiency with which it was destroyed at the Reformation. Only recently has it become possible to bring together the scattered evidence - antiquarian drawings and historic records along with a new survey of the standing remains - into a coherent picture. This richly illustrated volume provides the first full account of the abbey, from foundation to dissolution, and offers a new virtual reconstruction of the church and its cloister; it also shows how the abbey formed the backdrop to many key historical events.

Ron Baxter is the Research Director of the Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland.

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Table of Contents

Pilgrimage and Relics
Death and Burial at Reading Abbey
The Abbey and the Court
Dissolution and Dilapidation
The Architecture of the Abbey Church
The Architecture of the Cloister
The Sculpture of the Cloister


Offers a nuanced and considered approach to the topic and, hopefully, marks the beginning of greater interest in Reading and its abbey. JOURNAL OF MEDIEVAL MONASTIC CULTURE

A comprehensive and thoroughly readable account of the state of knowledge of this elusive medieval complex. ECCLESIOLOGY TODAY

Will undoubtedly serve as a new starting-point for work on Henry I's magnificent abbey. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

[Ron] Baxter is...uniquely qualified to do this work, and in doing so, he invests the detritus with a sense not only of scholarly importance but also of its former glory. LANDSCAPE HISTORY

An important book of reference for anybody interested in the history and archaeology of medieval Abbeys in England, and how they permeated Royal life and activity. FRIENDS OF READING ABBEY

Author Bio

Research Director, Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland. The project is hosted by King's College, London

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