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Archery compulsory for All in Reading
- The area around St. Mary's Church is where Reading was
first set up in Saxon times.
- The church was a Saxon Minster and then a Nunnery.
- The road alongside was the original market place, before this moved
to the present Market Place. There was a stone
cross for the grey
friars to use at the top end.
- In the reign of King
Edward IV, a law was passed forcing every man in the country to
practice archery (shooting arrows), so they could defend the kingdom
- Berkshire men had been famous for their archery skills since they
wore their 'Berkshire Stag' badges whilst helping to win the Battle of
Agincourt in France in 1415.
- The 'butts' were the thick straw stands that archery targets were
- In Reading, they were set up in the Old Market area, immediately west
of St. Mary's Church. People would meet there every Sunday, after the
church service, to practice.
- The area is now the road called St. Mary's Butts.
- In 1477, the man in charge of the Abbey's food stores, John A'Larder,
founded an almshouse (old people's home) in the middle of the
road. The rebuilt house was finally demolished in 1884.
- After guns were invented, arrows were not needed for battle any
more. In 1631, the town paid a fine so they didn't have to practice
- In 1688, St. Mary's churchyard was at the centre of real shooting
during the Battle of Broad Street.
- In the 18th century, Frances Kendrick (descended from John
Kendrick's brother) met her future husband at St. Mary's Church.
There is an extraordinary old story
about their own weddings soon afterwards.