ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Travel and Places»
  • Visiting Europe»
  • United Kingdom

Visiting Wantage Hall, Reading University, England: Traditional Academic Architecture With Gatehouse

Updated on March 8, 2018
Flag of England
Flag of England | Source
Wantage Hall, Reading University
Wantage Hall, Reading University | Source
Wantage Hall quad
Wantage Hall quad | Source
Lady Wantage portrait by Philip de Laszlo, 1911
Lady Wantage portrait by Philip de Laszlo, 1911 | Source

Firmly built on the foundations of the past

This distinguished example of traditional university architecture in Reading, Berkshire, England, was opened in 1908.

History of Reading University

The original Reading University Extension College was founded in 1892 by Christ Church, Oxford. (Indeed, the Reading University arms are derived from Christ Church's own arms.) This college first occupied the Hospitium of Reading Abbey, a monastic foundation dissolved at the Reformation by King Henry VIII; some of its ruins may still be seen near the Reading Downtown area. University College, Reading, soon emerged from this original college, which in turn eventually received its charter as a university in 1926.

There is thus a real sense in which Reading University was built both metaphorically and physically on the foundations of the past.

History and features of Wantage Hall

Together with St. Patrick's Hall, Wantage Hall is one of two more traditional Halls of residence at Reading University, which offer far more than accommodation to students of the university. From both an architectural and a community perspective they are somewhat similar to Oxford and Cambridge colleges. With important distinctions from Oxbridge, the traditional court layout has been retained in architectural styles from the pre-World War 1 era. Wantage Hall causes me in some ways to remember Selwyn College, Cambridge, while Pearson's Court at St. Patrick's Hall suggests a broad comparison with parts of Downing College, Cambridge.

On the lawn of the quadrangle, croquet is regularly played. Formal dinners at which gowns are worn have traditionally been very popular with the students.

Reading University's first Vice-Chancellor from 1926 to 1929, Professor W M Childs, resided at Wantage Hall.

In World War Two, Wantage Hall was used as the headquarters of the Royal Air Force Reserve Command.

Lady Wantage, founder

The founder of the Hall, Harriet, Lady Wantage endowed it in memory of her husband, Brigadier-General Lord Wantage of Lockinge, VC, who had died in 1901. Lady Wantage, an heiress and daughter of banker Baron Overstone, was the subject of a noted portrait by the distinguished society artist Philip de Laszlo in 1911.

Also worth visiting

Sonning , (distance: approx. 9.5 kilometres); this picturesque village on the Thames River may be accessed both by road and a footpath from Reading which runs alongside the Thames .

Silchester (distance: 18 kilometres) has Roman ruins, at which archeologists from Reading University have been excavating many years.

Windsor (distance: approx. 37 kilometres); opportunities to see Windsor's royal Castle, and St. George's Chapel, may easily be supplemented by a visit to Eton, with its College, which can be accessed from Windsor by a footbridge over the Thames River .

Oxford (distance: approx. 44 kilometres) with its many colleges, bookstores and fine architecture, may be accessed without difficulty from Reading.

London (distance: approx. 76 kilometres) is accessible for days out from Reading: Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Horse Guards' Parade: all within easy walking distance of each another, and various local Underground station provide links with Paddington railroad station, from where a rail service to Reading operates.

Stratford-upon-Avon (distance: approx. 128 kilometres) may also be the subject of a day trip from Reading; its Royal Shakespeare Theatre is the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Its also has Shakespeare's Birthplace, and the nearby Anne Hathaway's Cottage.


How to get there

Continental 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. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

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


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • MJFenn profile image

      MJFenn 7 years ago

      Yes, it was William Smith's which acted as Reading University's official (or semi-official) book supplier; I believe their main ordering department was at the main branch near Reading town centre. But as well as the bookstores and the University library, some of the Halls also had quite large libraries; I was student librarian at St Patrick's Hall nearly 30 years ago.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      This was not the W H Smiths chain shop it was a totally different concept. Old Books old building. Nostalgia!

    • MJFenn profile image

      MJFenn 7 years ago

      Smith's? I don't know if Smith's is still going, but there was a branch of Smith's at the Whiteknights campus of the university. (I also used to visit Blackwells.) Re. Palmer's, there was a Palmer building at Reading university, following a benefaction, I believe.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Brings back memories of the Cafe Ole and the wonderful "Smith's" book shop on London road crammed with a cornucopia of musty old volumes reached by creaking stairways, and the clang of the Huntley and Palmer's biscuit box plant, and the smell of the brewery wafting over our hockey field.

    • MJFenn profile image

      MJFenn 7 years ago

      Thank-you; really? I was at St Patrick's Hall — about which I've also written a hubpage — on nearby Northcourt Avenue for a few years (many years ago now).

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      I attended school at the Abbey School Reading next door. Thank you for a pleasant walk down memory lane.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is used to quickly and efficiently deliver files such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisements has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)