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Visiting Foxhill House, Reading University, Reading, England: Gothic Revival by Alfred Waterhouse, dating from 1868

Updated on February 3, 2015
Flag of England
Flag of England | Source
Foxhill House, Whiteknights Campus, Reading University, Reading
Foxhill House, Whiteknights Campus, Reading University, Reading | Source
Whiteknights Lake, University of Reading campus, looking across to Foxhill House
Whiteknights Lake, University of Reading campus, looking across to Foxhill House | Source
Alfred Waterhouse, R.A.,(1830-1905)
Alfred Waterhouse, R.A.,(1830-1905) | Source
Rufus Isaacs, 1st Marquess of Reading
Rufus Isaacs, 1st Marquess of Reading | Source
Sir Hugo Hirst, Bt., later 1st Baron Hirst
Sir Hugo Hirst, Bt., later 1st Baron Hirst | Source
Map location of Berkshire, United Kingdom
Map location of Berkshire, United Kingdom | Source

Recalling notable former residents

This fine, Gothic Revival building was designed by — and for a while served as the residence of — the distinguished Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse (1830-1905)(1). Other distinguished personalities who successively resided at Foxhill House were: Rufus Isaacs, 1st Marquess of Reading (1860-1935)(2); Sir Hugo Hirst, Bt., 1st Baron Hirst (1863-1943)(3).

The building was later acquired by Reading University and served as a residence, prior to assuming its current function as offices for the School of Law.

Noted features of the building include its execution in multicoloured brick, pronounced gables and tall chimney stacks.

I recall visiting Foxhill House many years ago when I was a student at Reading University. While I was at first sorry to hear years later that the building had ceased to serve as a residence, its subsequent use by the Law School seems an eminently suitable purpose to which to put this distinguished and historic building.

Foxhill is situated in the Whiteknights Campus of Reading University, Reading, in England's Berkshire. A particularly striking view of the building may be acquired from across Whitenights Lake (I have supplied a photo of such a view).

September 8, 2012


(1) Other buildings for which Architect Waterhouse was responsible include the Natural History Museum, London, the Main Quadrangle of Manchester University (formerly Owen's College); Liverpool University, and many others. Edwin Waterhouse, brother to Alfred, founded accountancy practice Price Waterhouse now forming part of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which in recent years funded the refurbishment of Foxhill House.

(2) Among the offices held by Rufus Isaacs were Member of Parliament for Reading, Lord Chief Justice for England and Wales, Viceroy of India, and Foreign Secretary. He also served as British Ambassador to the United States; interestingly, this office, which would often be regarded as the pinnacle of a prominent person's career, was almost seen by Isaacs as an appendage to his various other, grand preoccupations, since he felt he could adequately represent Great Britain in Washington, DC, while continuing as Lord Chief Justice! Something of Great Britain's hierarchical social system is also seen in the various titles held by this rather grand personage: on elevation to the Peerage he was first Baron Reading from 1914, then Viscount Reading from 1916, then the Earl of Reading from 1917 (simultaneously attaining the title of Viscount Erleigh), and finally Marquess of Reading from 1926.

(3) Sir Hugo Hirst, Bt., 1st Baron Hirst, was the German-born co-founder of the General Electric Company, which he led for many years. (Upon his naturalization in 1883 changed his birth name Hugo Hirsch to Hugo Hirst.)

Also worth seeing

In Reading itself, the University of Reading's Wantage Hall and St Patrick's Hall, are among the University's building which are of architectural merit; Reading Abbey ruins include the Hospitium, formerly housing the 19th century College from which Reading University later developed.

Silchester (distance: 18 kilometres) has significant, Romain remains.


How to get there

United Airlines flies from New York Newark Airport to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. Distance from Heathrow Airport to Reading is 49 kilometres. A regular bus link exists between Heathrow Airport and Reading. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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