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The HLF Project

The Reading Abbey Revealed project

Reading Abbey Ruins and The Blade

Reading Abbey Ruins and The Blade

In December 2015 the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) confirmed a grant of £1.77 million for Reading Borough Council's Reading Abbey Revealed project, with Council match funding of £1.38 million. This means the Council can finally fulfil its long-standing ambition to re-open the Abbey Ruins and Gateway to the public.

In January 2017 we appointed CRL Restoration as the main contractor responsible for implementing the conservation plans which start in February 2017. Alongside these extensive conservation works we have a programme of events and educational activities breathing new life into Reading’s most important historic gem. This programme is being co-ordinated by newly appointed specialist staff based at Reading Museum in collaboration with a variety of organisations and partners. These activities will range from hard-hat tours during the conservation work to a high profile opening event.

Site-wide interpretation of the Abbey Quarter will include a new display at Reading Museum opening in 2018. The new interpretation information that will uncover the Quarter's hidden heritage and reveal its pivotal significance to Reading’s history.

Local people and visitors from further afield will also benefit from the Museum’s well known track-record in both community engagement and volunteering. The Museum has recently successfully renewed its ‘Investing in Volunteer’ status and has started its Abbey volunteering programme to engage 35 new regular volunteers who will contribute across a broad range of activities to care for and share the Abbey’s heritage.

The conservation proposals were prepared and approved following detailed condition surveys and trial repairs undertaken during the project’s development phase with specialists, architects and in close relationship with Historic England. The events programme was developed following extensive public consultation, in which more than 1,000 Reading residents responded to an online survey.

Reading Abbey Gateway where Jane Austen went to schoolReading Abbey Chapter House

The current project timetable is:

  • March 2016: project starts- finalising plans, securing permissions and procuring contractors for the conservation and interpretation programmes.
  • January 2017: main conservation contractor appointed and temporary staff start
  • February 2017: conservation work starts on site and will take up to 2 years to complete.
  • Mid/late 2018: the Abbey Ruins fully open to the public, complemented by a programme of events and activities.
  • The successful HLF award means the accompanying activity programme will continue beyond the opening until the end of 2020.

Heritage Lottery Fund logo


Date updated: 01 Feb 2017

File format File title Summary File size

Reading Abbey Revealed project overview June 2016

An brief overview of the Reading Abbey Revealed project



Reading Abbey Revealed Round 2 HLF Application September 2015



Reading Abbey Revealed Proposed Outdoor Interpretation Location Plan



Reading Abbey Revealed Proposed Museum Gallery Plan



Reading Abbey Revealed Proposed Outdoor Interpretation Panel design



Reading Abbey Revealed Proposed Abbey Ruins Plan



Reading Abbey Revealed Activity Plan Summary July 2015


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