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Kendrick foresaw his Charity for the Poor

  • Minster Street is named after St. Mary's Church. It was a Saxon Minster.
  • There was a stone preaching cross called 'Gerrard's Cross' for the grey friars to use somewhere in the street.
  • In Tudor times, there were lots of smelly tanneries (leather making works) down by the river there.
  • There was a famous pub there called the Cardinal's Hat:
    • The dangerous document, Aske's Manifesto, first started to spread round the town when Sir William Essex's servant brought a copy there.
    • Puritan Palmer was arrested there.
  • Later, John Kendrick was born over his family's cloth shop in this street.
  • He grew up in the town and attended the Reading School in the old Abbey guesthouse. Then he went to Oxford University.
  • His father died when he was a teenager. He took over the business. He employed several hundred people weaving on 104 looms.
  • But this wasn’t enough. John wanted to hit the big time. He moved to London where he became very very rich exporting cloth to the Netherlands.
  • When he died in 1624, he left lots of money in his will to enable the people of Reading and Newbury to help the poor get work.
  • In Reading, they built a workhouse called the ‘Oracle’ on the site of John’s old house. It was not like horrible Victorian workhouses. It was a nice place for poor people to live and learn a trade, so they could support themselves.
  • William’s family were greedy and took most of the money needed for the ‘Oracle’. So, in 1849, it was closed.
  • What was left of the money was used to set up the Kendrick Boys’ School (now part of Reading School) and the Kendrick Girls’ School.
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