Things to Do in Reading
The collections within the museum tell the story of Reading and its place in the world. It started out in 1883 with a bequest from a local collector called Horatio Bland. He left the town his private museum of fascinating objects from Ancient Greek pots to a duck-billed platypus, social history and world cultures.
The MERL reopened in October 2016 after a £3 million redevelopment project, which radically transformed our public displays.
The new Museum challenges perceptions about rural England by revealing the historical and contemporary relevance of country life. Come and discover our new interactive, immersive galleries which explore questions of identity, environment, technology, culture and health.
The Museum was established in the early 20th century by Francis J. Cole, Professor of Zoology from 1907 to 1939. The Collection was originally housed at the London Road campus until the early 1970s when it was transported to its present location at Whiteknights.
The Cole Museum of Zoology contains some 3500 specimens of which about 400 are on display at any one time. Specimens are arranged in taxonomic sequence enabling a complete tour of the diversity of the Animal Kingdom to be completed in less than one hour.
The Royal Berkshire Medical Museum is part of the Berkshire Medical Heritage Centre which was founded in 1997.
Our aim is to preserve and display items of historical medical interest particularly those with a local connection.
Caversham Court Gardens is a Reading Borough Council public park, open to all from 0800 to dusk every day of the year except Christmas Day . It is situated on the banks of the River Thames near Caversham Bridge.
The gardens have won the prestigious Green Flag Award, as well as a Green Heritage Site award again in 2017. They have now done so every year from 2010 to 2017. The Green Flag singles out parks that are clean, well run, and welcoming, and the Green Heritage Site accreditation shows the site is valued and conserved, and that people are helped to appreciate it.
The Harris Garden provides an important amenity for all, giving pleasure to an increasing number of visitors, staff and students. It provides facilities for teaching, conservation and recreation.
The garden is situated on the Whiteknights campus of the University of Reading about two miles south of the town centre. It was once the home paddock of the now demolished ‘Wilderness’, a Victorian house which was built in the remains of a famous landscape garden created at White Knights by George Spencer, Marquis of Blandford (later 5th Duke of Marlborough) between 1798 and 1819.
Sitting elegantly in 162 hectares (400 acres) of historic parkland and gardens, this 18th-century house was purchased by Lord and Lady Iliffe in the 1950s, when it was de-requisitioned after the Second World War. With extraordinary vision, the Iliffes brought Basildon Park back to life, acquiring a collection of fine furnishings and carefully selected Old Masters.
The wooded parkland offers glorious seasonal colour, with spring bluebells, summer buttercups and autumn leaves, while the landscape has been carefully restored to offer wonderful views, peaceful trails and picnic places, with areas for children to run and play. Winter walks are a must.
Silchester in Hampshire has its origins as Calleva, a centre of the Iron Age Atrebates tribe from the late 1st century BC. After the Roman conquest of AD 43 it became the large and important town of Calleva Atrebatum. Unlike most Roman towns, it was never reoccupied or built over after it was abandoned in the 6th or 7th century, so archaeological investigations have given an unusually complete picture of its development.
The complete circuit of the Roman walls, some of the best-preserved Roman town defences in England, and remains of the amphitheatre still stand.
In medieval times, Reading was the site of a great royal Abbey – a religious community centred round a magnificent church – one of the largest monasteries in Europe. In 1121, King Henry I announced that he wanted to have a new abbey built at Reading. The Abbey would have a large and impressive church and living quarters for dozens of monks, who would worship in the church. No expense was spared in its construction. The Abbey Quarter covers the former precinct of this royal monastery.
Take a boat trip down the Kennet and Avon Canal