Maps & Travels
Towns & Villages
Castles & Houses
Odds & Ends
And Local Government in Reading
- Tothill was the old name for the top end of Minster
Street. It means
'meeting hill'. It led down to the Yield Hall. This was Reading's original town
hall and the Abbey's court house.
- In Norman times, the Abbot controlled everything that went on in
- The townsfolk had to fight hard to set up 'guilds' to control trade
rules in the town. They were eventually allowed to do this in 1254, but
the Abbot still got to pick the mayor in charge.
- There were guilds for:
- Clothiers & clothworkers
- Cutlers (knife makers) & bellfounders (this included all
metal & wood workers, builders & even barbers!)
- Tanners (leather makers) & leathersellers
- Mercers & drapers (cloth & clothing sellers)
- Victuallers (food & drink sellers)
- They met in the Yield Hall. It was built on an island in the Kennet.
- The town washerwomen would wash clothes in the Holy Brook outside
and make lots of noise. The people at the guild meetings couldn't hear
each other speak!
- When the Abbey was dissolved by John
London in 1539, the townsfolk took
control of the town at last.
- London arranged for the King to give them the old Friary buildings
as a new town hall instead.
- The old Yield Hall was used for industry and changed a lot over the
- It was pulled down in 1935.