Henry I's Reading Abbey: The Architecture of His Burial Church

Course details

From £67.00

Sat 29 Sep 2018

Henry I's Reading Abbey: The Architecture of His Burial Church


Held in association with the Reading Abbey Quarter and the Friends of Reading Abbey


Founded in 1121 with monks from Cluny in Burgundy, Reading Abbey was to become one of the most important monasteries in England. In 1132 Henry I made it a Royal Abbey, and it became his burial place. As a result, it became a leading example of Romanesque architecture, and a major centre for sculpture with an influence throughout England.

Following the Dissolution of the abbey in 1538, much of the lead, glass and facing stone was removed. More recently much carved stonework, amongst the best-preserved of its period in England, has been recovered and preserved in Reading Museum. Detailed examination has provided significant insights into the Romanesque architectural decoration of the abbey, particularly its cloister.

The recent Hidden Abbey project produced new evidence for the form of the church. It is believed that Henry I was buried before the high altar, posing the intriguing question of whether his remains are still in place. Heritage Lottery funding awarded in December 2016 will enable the Reading Abbey Revealed project to undertake conservation so that surviving elements of the church and chapter house can be opened to the public in 2018, and to restore the surviving Abbey Gate. Simultaneously, the Reading Abbey Quarter project is providing new understanding of the former Abbey precinct. 

This day school will use the results of these initiatives to create a picture of the lost abbey and examine the surviving architecture and sculpture. We will also consider its history since the Dissolution, and look to its future.

Programme details

Held in association with the Reading Abbey Quarter and the Friends of Reading Abbey



9.45am            Registration

10.00am          Reading Abbey – its Architecture in Context

                        KEITH HASTED

11.15am          Coffee/tea

11.45am          The Surviving Architecture and Sculpture

                        DR RON BAXTER

1.00pm            Lunch

2.00pm            Dissolution and the Abbey’s Later History

                        JOHN PAINTER

3.15pm            Tea/coffee

3.45pm            Reading Abbey Revealed – Current Work and Research on the Abbey site

                        MATTHEW WILLIAMS

5.00pm            Course disperses



Accommodation is not included in the price, but depending on availability it may be possible to stay at Rewley House on Friday and / or Saturday night.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email res-ctr@conted.ox.ac.uk  for details of availability and prices.

Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.


Tuition (includes coffee/tea): £67.00
Baguette: £4.90
Hot Lunch: £14.00


If you are in receipt of a state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses



Dr Ron Baxter


Dr Ron Baxter is the Research Director of the Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland, based at King’s College, London.

Mr John Painter


John Painter is the Secretary of the Friends of Reading Abbey.

Mr Matthew Williams


Matthew Williams is the Manager of Reading Museum.

Mr Keith Hasted

Course Director and Speaker

Keith's initial research focus was Italian Renaissance palace architecture, and he has since developed a special interest in church architecture, both medieval and Renaissance, based on travel across Europe. He has taught courses over a number of years on the OUDCE weekly programme and Summer School, and for the WEA.


Dr Paul Barnwell

Director of Studies

Dr Paul Barnwell is Director of Studies in the Historic Environment and Co-Director of Courses and Workshops in the Historic Environment at OUDCE.