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Followers of St. Francis spread the Word in Reading 

Greyfriars at Reading -  Nash Ford Publishing


  • 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 King Henry 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 today.


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