Walsingham House,
Lost Tudor Mansion

No 134 Broad Street, also known as No. 1 Minster Street, in Reading was a fine Tudor - perhaps largely Elizabethan - structure with the official name of Walsingham House. It was traditionally built by Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth I's spymaster general, as his Reading town house. He is also supposed to have had a country estate at nearby Englefield House, but liked to be near to the Queen when she was staying at her palace in the old Abbot's House. It had a prominent Royal coat-of-arms on a large diamond decorating the Broad Street frontage proclaiming that the Queen had once slept (or at least been entertained) there. Later, during the Civil War Siege of Reading, it is said to have been used as the headquarters for both Royalists and then the Roundheads. 

In the Victorian era the house was for many decades, a grocer's shop, originally under the Johnson family in the 1820s & 30s. From about 1856/7, the shop was taken over by John Wells Hounslow (1823-1902) who opened his Grocery and Wine & Porter Merchants, when he moved up from 56 Minster Street. He later entered into partnership with his former employee, Charles Seymour, as Hounslow & Seymour in 1865. By 1874, Mr. Seymour had left the partnership, while Mr. Hounslow diversified into a Grocery & Italian Warehouse, as well as being agent for Bass, Allsop, Ind Coope, Guiness and Schwepp's Mineral Waters. He lived at Chomley House on the London Road in Earley and was long remembered in Reading as the Broad/Minster Street junction became popularly known as Hounslow's Corner, a name that has sadly been lost since.

Hounslow's closed in 1898 when JW Hounslow retired and the shop appears to have stood empty for a couple of years. From 1901, it became home to the Speedwell Motor & Engineering Co Ltd who, as well as selling motor cars and motor cycles, offered such motoring accoutrements as "oxidized silver, oxidized copper and antique brass electric light fittings, radiators, bronze figures & co". Their works were moved to Minster Street after their Oxford Road site suffered a serious fire in 1900. There was also a second showroom at 50 Albert Gate, London. The building was callously torn down in 1905 and replaced by the current "Carnegie Library" style structure.


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