So wrote Sir John Betjeman in the 1940s. We think we're a whole lot more prepossessing these days - but, as the great chronicler of English heritage noted, we're still an amazing place to discover. From the ruins of a medieval monastery to cutting edge business parks, Reading has embraced change while honouring its 1,400 year heritage.
We have over 850 listed buildings and structures, and seven miles of river frontage. We have two National Trails on our doorstep, and some of the best transport links in the country. We are a place that for generations has attracted visitors from all over the world and is now one of the most multi-cultural towns in the south.
Come and discover Reading for yourself - the exploration will be worth it.
With over 1400 years of history behind us you'll find remarkable stories and intriguing buildings around every corner.
Founded by the Saxons in around 800AD, Reading was a natural choice for a settlement, set as it was in a fertile valley between the Thames and the Kennet. There are many ideas for how Reading got its name, but favourite has to be that it derived from the Saxon for "Reada's people", Reada being a Saxon tribal leader.
The town has witnessed invasion by the Vikings and the Normans, has been the setting for Royal burials and marriages, a pilgrimage site of European importance, and was occupied at various times by both sides in the Civil War.
Some of the most historic and intriguing parts of Reading can be explored in a circular route form the town centre. An excellent starting point to discover more is, of course, the Museum of Reading, and we recommend Daphne Phillips' excellent History of Reading, as well as many of the titles published by "Two Rivers Press" locally.
For more detailed local history, or if you are studying your family tree, you will find lots of help at the Local Studies Library, the Berkshire Records Office and Berkshire Family History Society (using the quick links).