Berkshire

Reading Abbey ruins £1.77m conservation bid submitted

Reading Abbey Image copyright Reading Museum
Image caption Reading Borough Council wants funding to reopen the ruins of Reading Abbey

A £1.77m funding bid for a conservation project at 12th Century abbey ruins in Reading has been submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The Reading Abbey Revealed project aims to attract tourists to the historic site where Henry I was buried.

Reading council secured a first round development grant from HLF and is expecting a decision on the second bid in December.

If successful the currently fenced-off abbey will reopen in 2018.

Image copyright None
Image caption Henry I was the son of William the Conqueror and founded Reading Abbey in 1121

The abbey was destroyed as part of Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th Century, but the project aims to bring alive its history with talks, tours and museum displays.

The site is believed to be where the first documented musical round with English words was composed in the mid 13th Century.

Recently plans were drawn up to excavate parts of the site to search for the bones of Henry I, who was the son of William the Conqueror and founded Reading Abbey in 1121.

A specialist buildings archaeologist examined the abbey ruins in February and has provided "a fuller picture of how these areas of the abbey may have looked in their original form".

The ruins closed to the public in 2009 when a condition survey highlighted the "poor and rapidly deteriorating condition of the walls".

If the bid is successful work to conserve the site will start from February.

Two previous bids were turned down in 2012 and 2013.

Councillor Tony Page said: "The abbey is a site of national and international importance and the Reading Abbey Revealed project will ensure it takes its rightful place on the map."

The abbey conservation is part of a larger Abbey Quarter project to develop and conserve the surround area.

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