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Followers of St. Francis spread
the Word in Reading
- The Franciscan or 'Grey' friars were followers of St. Francis of
Assisi in Italy. They wore grey habits.
- They lived a poor life with no possessions, like Jesus, and spent
their time travelling around telling people about God and the Bible.
- A group arrived in Reading in 1233. They set up their Friary Church
near Caversham Bridge.
- There were too many floods and they moved to New Street (now Friar
Street) 50 years later.
- They would talk to the townsfolk at four preaching crosses around
the town: Cornish, Gerrard's, Fair & Coley Cross.
- Their church was dissolved in 1538 by
VIII's commissioner, John London.
- London persuaded the King to let the townsfolk turn the friary
church into their new town hall to replace the old
Yield Hall by the River.
- The building was too cramped though. In 1578 it became an workhouse
for old poor people to learn a trade. By 1613, this had been turned
into a prison.
- In 1862 the prison was closed. Lots of building work was undertaken
to turn the building back into a church. It is still a church