Caversham is today a suburb in the unitary authority of Reading, in the royal county of Berkshire, England. It lies on the north bank of the River Thames on the opposite bank from the rest of Reading. Caversham Bridge, Reading Bridge and Caversham Lock (pedestrian only) provide crossing points, with Sonning Bridge a few miles east of Caversham.
Caversham is mostly residential, and extends from the River Thames floodplain up the foothills of the Chilterns. There are a number of distinct neighbourhoods: Caversham Heights, Lower Caversham, Caversham Park Village and Emmer Green. With the exception of the centre of Caversham and Emmer Green, which were traditional villages, most of the development occurred during the twentieth century.
Some time before 1106 a Shrine of Our Lady was established in Caversham. Its precise location is unknown, but it may have been near the present St Peter's Church. It became a popular place of pilgrimage, along with the chapel of St. Anne on the bridge and her well, whose waters were believed to have healing properties. By the 15th century the statue was plated in silver; Catherine of Aragon is recorded as visiting on 17 July 1532. The shrine was destroyed on 14 September 1538 under the orders of Henry VIII. Only the well survives, now dry and surrounded by a protective wall, topped with a domed iron grill. A modern shrine to Our Lady has been re-established at the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady and St. Anne.
The medieval community was clustered on the north side of Caversham Bridge east of St. Peter's Church, which was built in the 12th century. The third Earl of Buckingham[clarification needed] donated the land for the church and neighbouring rectory, together with a considerable amount of land around it, to the Augustinian Abbey of Notley near Long Crendon in Buckinghamshire. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, these lands were given to Christchurch College, Oxford. The rectory stood in what is now Caversham Court public park.
In the Civil War there was fierce fighting around Caversham Bridge for a short time in April 1643. Reading had been held by Royalists and was besieged by a Parliamentary force under the Earl of Essex. Royalists marched south from Oxford to try to relieve the town's defenders but were heavily defeated, and the town fell to the Parliamentarians a few days later.
The fortified manor house was replaced by Caversham Park in the 16th century. Several houses have stood on the site, notably the home of William Cadogan, 1st Earl Cadogan. The present Caversham Park House, built in 1850, is occupied by BBC Monitoring, which is a section of the BBC World Service that analyses news, information and comment gathered from mass media around the world. It is also the premises of the BBC Written Archives Centre and BBC Radio Berkshire.
Caversham is entirely within the borough of Reading and forms four of the borough's sixteen electoral wards: Caversham, Peppard, Mapledurham and Thames wards. Two of Caversham's wards derive their names from Oxfordshire villages that are outside the borough boundary – Mapledurham and Rotherfield Peppard.
There is one local authority secondary school in Caversham, Highdown School. Many children from the area also attend Chiltern Edge School in South Oxfordshire. In the independent sector, Queen Anne's School educates girls between the ages of 11 and 18 while Hemdean House School has mixed infants and junior schools, and a girls senior school.
There are several primary schools in Caversham including Caversham Primary School, Caversham Park Primary School, Emmer Green Primary School, The Hill Primary School, St. Anne's RC Primary School, St. Martin's RC Primary School, Micklands Primary School and Thameside Primary School. There is a shortage of primary school places in the west of Caversham, but a 2006 proposal to use part of Mapledurham playing fields to build a replacement for Caversham Primary School did not receive public support.
Caversham has several nursery schools, one of which, New Bridge Nursery school was assessed by OFSTED in 2011 as outstanding.
Chiltern College, once a training school for nannies, now provides training in all aspects of child care, and claims to be the only childcare training college in the UK with its own nurseries, school, training college and residential accommodation on campus.
There are 13 churches in the Caversham area, including five along the main road that runs through Caversham's centre. St Peter's Church is the parish church of central Caversham, with St. John's, St Andrew's and St. Barnabas making up the other Anglican Churches. Our Lady and St. Anne's is the Catholic church and the Methodists have two churches, one on the junction of Gosbrook Road and Ardler Road and one in Caversham Heights. The Baptists are represented in the centre of Caversham at Caversham Baptist Church, and also have premises in Caversham Heights. Grace Church Caversham meets at Caversham Hill Chapel, and is part of Newfrontiers, and The New Testament Church of God (Pentecostal) meets in Caversham's old cinema. Caversham Park Village Church meets in Caversham Park Primary School each Sunday and is an ecumenical project made up of Anglicans, Baptists and Methodists. Finally, Caversham Evangelical Church meets at the Youth and Community Centre in Emmer Green.
The shopping area and immediate residential surrounds that form Central Caversham are surrounded by more recent developments that form bolt-on additions to the suburb: Caversham Heights on the higher ground to the west, Lower Caversham to the south east, and Caversham Park Village to the north east on what was the parkland of Caversham Park. Emmer Green, to the north, is an older village but is generally considered part of Caversham.
Elevations of homes vary from 37m above mean sea level to 92m at the top of Caversham Park, three metres short of the highest point in the east of the area. Between Mapledurham on the Thames and Caversham Heights, adjoining their respective golf courses is a western narrow outcrop of the northern foothills that reaches 95m AOD. The low Chiltern Hills on the north bank of the River Thames are therefore higher than the land on the opposite bank, providing wide views to the south.
Caversham has one of the largest youth football clubs in the South Chiltern minor league with many of these youth teams competing in the top divisions of South Chiltern minor league. The under 17s consist of Caversham AFC Colts and Caversham AFC Cobras. Caversham AFC's main ground is Clayfield Copse, commonly referred to as "Swan's Lair" because the mascot for the team is a swan. In previous seasons, Highdown School has been used as Caversham AFC's training ground. The club colours are red and black.
- Berkshire Record Office. Charter 750 — A County Borough. Retrieved October 6, 2005.
- A Vision of Britain Through Time (2004). Caversham UD Oxfordshire through time. Retrieved October 6, 2005.
- Caversham Court HLF Application. Retrieved February 7, 2008.
- Royal Berkshire History: Caversham in Oxfordshire
- RC Parish of Our Lady & St. Anne, Caversham: The Shrine of Our Lady of Caversham
- "RBC Wards 2004 A4". Reading Borough Council. Retrieved 2008-02-14.
- "School Places and Admission Arrangements Review (clause 18)". Reading Borough Council. 2008.
- "Mapledurham Playing Fields Consultation Results". Reading Borough Council. 5 Dec 2006.
- "Ofsted Report March 2011". New Bridge Nursery School. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
- Ordnance survey website
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Caversham, Berkshire.|
- Royal Berkshire History: Caversham
- Lecture on "Old Caversham", W. Wing, 1894. Full-text transcription.
- Caversham.info - local Caversham community website