Saturday, 19 November 2016

St Giles Reading

Now I confess I have been in the church before many years ago on Christmas eve. Just happened to be walking round with my son  and went past the church  and noticed the side door open. People were decorating the church for Christmas and I was really taken with what I saw so decided to come back when I got a chance, so four years later.

The original church was built in the 12th century to serve the population to the south of the River Kennet, who found it difficult to reach St Mary's during winter floods of the river. Besides the southern section of the medieval borough, its parish also included the hamlet of Whitley, which then lay outside the borough boundary. In 1191 Pope Clement III gave the church to Reading Abbey and throughout the Middle Ages it enjoyed the right of sanctuary. In 1539, John Eynon, the then priest of St Giles', was found guilty of high treason and along with Hugh Cook Faringdon, the abbot of Reading Abbey, was hanged in front of the abbey gateway.
During the Civil War, when the Parliamentarian forces besieged Reading, the church tower was garrisoned by the King's forces and used as a gun platform. As a consequence it was in turn attacked by the besieging artillery and the upper part of the tower, including its spire, was destroyed in 1643. The fabric was restored at the end of hostilities.
In 1798 there was a disagreement between members of the congregation of St Giles' Church. Many of them left and founded a new chapel in Castle Street, on the site of Reading's old gaol. This chapel eventually became the Church of St Mary, Castle Street.
In 1872, the original small mediaeval church was rebuilt by James Piers St Aubyn in Early English style retaining only the 13th century aisle walls and Perpendicular style west tower. A new ashlar steeple was added in 1873. The exterior of the church is faced in flint and the roof is tiled. The church is a Grade II listed building.
History from Wickipedia

View of St Giles as you walk up Southampton Street

The spire is the most noticeable thing as it can be seen for miles

Wide view showing both North & South Aisles

On the south side is a Crucifix which is part of the church roll of Honour listing the names of the fallen in the first war from the church. To the right is Church Street

Looking at St Giles from the North side of the churchyard

From the end of Church Street


The entrance porch on the South side which is locked during the week. A small door further along Church lane is open for people to visit the church

This is the view you get when you first walk in to St Giles

Looking back towards the Organ loft

Looking from just in front of the loft down the nave

  I had to go in the Organ loft for a shot

These views are zoomed in from the loft as well

and this is the organ you can see which looks impressive

I started off going down the South aisle to the Lady chapel  with it's screen across


The chapel is beautifully decorated with a wonderful painted screen behind the altar

Showing the Crucifixion


As you walk out into the Chancel you can see this small statue of Mary with Jesus

Used the wide angle lens for this view

along with this one of the nave

The altar at the front of the Chancel

And the chancel itself. The curate must have been told I was in the church because he came out and turned on the lights which gave a whole new outlook to the Chancel 

Looking around the walls of the chancel you can see saints
like St Christopher and St Michael

This is the altar you see at the bottom of the North aisle in the Transept is St Georges Altar

Beside the steps to the chancel is this beautiful lectern and opposite is the pulpit which is quite simple

Above the view from the pulpit

The Church font

I noticed a lot of dressed statues in the church along with the stations of the cross making me think I was in a catholic church at first but it is Church of England  which uses the Catholic Tradition

Near the Chancel you can see this statue of St Giles

The statue on the Right is Christ and on the left Our Lady of All Sorrows

Not far away is this statue of St Joseph

You can see a lot of memorials around the church, the one on the right and left are in the South aisle

While you can see these near the entrance in the South transept. From the look you can also see a Byre used as a display table

Heading over to St Georges altar you can see more memorials behind and along the North aisle

There is also this beautiful carving of John Eynon who was martyred in 1539 along with Hugh Faringdon

Nearby is a little display telling you his story

Two more of the North Aisle memorials

Stained glass is all round you in St Giles

and it is all impressive


and if you catch the light right even more so

I could not tell you who it is by but it is beautiful

This one is in the South aisle 

along with the one on the left while the one on the right can be seen in the Lady Chaple

Above you can see the cancel ceiling which I should have taken with the lights off for effect

From across the road the North side churchyard with some fine tombs on show

On the South side with the meorial

Then round the back to the East end

This is not a tomb but a headstone laid down, it's huge

Right over in a corner is a forgotten family vault, broken and the iron railings gone leaving just the marks in the blockwork round the edge

Here we look toward the road on the Norths side

and across the East side

There are a few graves along Church Lane on the South side of the church

which goes along past the east end of the church as well

The headstones and tomb near the lane

Looking towards the East end of the church

Autumn leaves fill the churchyard

From the end of Church lane near the Rectory you get a nice view of the church and churchyard

I'll leave you with this shot I took of a vase at the base of the statue of St Giles.
Have a Peaceful Weekend


  1. Thank you. Sincerely thank you for accompanying us with your images and your information to the visit of these amazing churches. Thanks again.
    Have a great Sunday.

  2. Bill, this one is so much larger than most that you share...thanks.

  3. what a cool area. i love all the different pieces of architecture. so so neat!! ( :

  4. Thank you so much for sharing the interior of St. Giles' as I've passed by many-a-time until we moved away, but have never been inside. It's absolutely beautiful, Bill. My grandmother's cousin's husband, Percy, used to attend this church. He used to walk from their home at the far end of Basingstoke Road to get there and I remember Grandma saying it had a High Church tradition. His wife, my Cousin Louisa, went to St. Paul's, a 'tin structured mission chapel' in Basingstoke Road. As a child I used to be taken to the women's fellowship in St. Paul's with Grandma and her cousin from time-to-time. Another memory is of going to dancing lessons in the big hall next to St. Giles' on Southampton Street and wonder now whether it belonged to the church? Have you ever visited All Saints' Church, Downshire Square? It's another beautiful church in the Anglo-Catholic Tradition.

  5. Hello Bill!
    This building is beautiful. Your pictures too.
    Here you can see the history at every step.

  6. Another amazing church and your detailed information to go with it. Beautiful interior. Thanks for that last shot...