St. Mary’s Church is a major cultural highlight in Reading, and inherits a rich historical legacy. According to legend the Church was established by St. Birinus as part of his evangelic activities in the area in the AD 630s. However this story has been discredited as mere conjecture. However there was undoubtedly a major Saxon Minster (church) on the premises which was converted to a nunnery under the wicked Queen Aethelfrith. Upon the death of her husband, the king, the queen killed her stepson so that her own son, Aethelred could ascend to the throne. Aethelred was so dismayed by his mother’s actions that he compelled her to open several such convents in an effort to purify her soul.
Due to devastation at the hands of the Vikings these ancient buildings are now largely nonexistent. The core structure of the present church dates to the 11th century, and the South Aisle was constructed about a hundred years later. The building was extensively renovated in the 16th century and the tower with the chequerboard design dates from this era. A great deal of restoration in more recent times has obliterated much of the ancient features, but some 17th century fixtures remain. The gallery and oak wood screen date from this era. The monument to William Kendrick, showing the latter and his wife at prayer is the only artifact of older times. The church remains one of the most important cultural sites in the area.
The visitor who desires to stay in well equipped UK hotels can make use of a England hotels guide to find suitable accommodation options. A unique hotel Reading is proud to call its own, Copthorne Reading offers all the facilities of a quality hotel in a charming picturesque setting.