St Laurence's Church, Reading

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St Laurence's Church
St Laurence, Friar Street, Reading.jpg
St Laurence's Church with The Blade in the background
St Laurence's Church is located in Reading Central
St Laurence's Church
St Laurence's Church
Location within Reading Town Centre
51°27′23.59″N 0°58′10.01″W / 51.4565528°N 0.9694472°W / 51.4565528; -0.9694472Coordinates: 51°27′23.59″N 0°58′10.01″W / 51.4565528°N 0.9694472°W / 51.4565528; -0.9694472
DenominationChurch of England
DedicationSt Laurence
Functional statusActive
Heritage designationGrade I
Vicar(s)Rev. Canon Chris Russell

St Laurence's Church is a Church of England mission and former parish church in the town of Reading in the English county of Berkshire. It is situated alongside the site of Reading Abbey, formerly bounded by the main Compter Gate to the south and the Hospitium of St John to the north. What was once the private chapel of the latter institution still remains in the north aisle.[1]


St Laurence's Church c. 1845 by William Fox Talbot

St Laurence's was one of the three original parish churches, along with St Mary's and St Giles', serving the medieval borough of Reading. It was built to serve the people of the eastern part of the town. Its location next to the Abbey stimulated trade in that part of the town and St Laurence's soon became surrounded by a large market place which included a pillory and stocks.[1]

The church dates from the Norman period but underwent major rebuildings in 1196, in the 15th century and in 1867. The building is of flint with ashlar quoins. The principal feature of the church is a three-stage tower, built in 1458, which closes the vista to the north of Reading's old Market Place. The interior of the church contains several interesting items, including a memorial to John Blagrave, the 16th century English mathematician and a 1522 font used for the christening of Archbishop Laud. The church is a Grade I listed building.[1][2]

On 10 February 1943 the church was damaged by a bombing raid that killed 41 people. The damage can still be seen today[3]

In the 1970s, a declining congregation meant that the parish of St Laurence was merged with that of St Mary's. Numbers continued to decline, and at the end of the 20th century it was decided to seek a new role for the church. The interior of the church was reorganised and a modern mezzanine floor inserted at one end of the nave. Today it serves as a mission church with a mandate to encourage the faith amongst young people.[4]


  1. ^ a b c "Royal Berkshire History – St Laurence's Church". David Nash Ford's Royal Berkshire History. Retrieved 2016-01-10.
  2. ^ "Images of England – St Laurence's Church and Churchyard, Forbury Road, Reading". English Heritage. Retrieved 2007-11-28.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Saint Laurence, Reading – how we got here". Saint Laurence Church. Archived from the original on 2007-06-11. Retrieved 2007-11-28.

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