Visiting Wycliffe Baptist Church, Reading, Berkshire, England: Italianate Structure Dating From 1881
Exhibiting a combination of Neo-Romanesque and Neo-Classical features
This imposing building in Italianate style, is recorded as dating from 1881, in answer to the growing needs of baptist activities in Reading East.
There were already baptists in Reading, Berkshire, in the 17th century. By the end of 19th century, when the Borough's population was expanding greatly, a number of baptist congregations were in existence.
The structure is executed in read and grey brick. While its style is generally — and typically — Italianate, it combines elements which would be called both Neo-Classical and Romanesque. The prominent pediment at the King's Road elevation above the main entrance arches is of Neo-Classical inspiration, while the profusion of Syrian arches evidences strong Neo-Romanesque influence. A circular window within the pediment complements the Neo-Romanesque arching. The multicoloured brickwork — now in a mature, weathered state — also inadvertently suggests an element of rustication which is also associated with Neo-Romanesque.
The interior of the building includes an upper storey of seating in the main auditorium. Recent extension work has employed brickwork similar to the building's older red and grey brick.
The building is named for John Wycliffe, prominent 14th century, pre-Reformation Lollard preacher and Master of Balliol College, Oxford, sometimes regarded as a major precursor of Nonconformist churches in England, identified with a strong emphasis on Scripture over tradition (1).
Wycliffe Baptist Church is situated at King's Road, close to the Reading landmark known as Cemetery Junction.
February 21, 2018
(1) Indeed, one of the Lollards martyred for his faith was John Stillman, a citizen of Reading.
Also worth seeing
In Reading itself, visitor attractions include many other church buildings of note, including Reading Minster, St Mary's Episcopal Chapel, the former Broad Street Independent Chapel, the church of St Lawrence-in-Reading, the Hospitium of the former Reading Abbey in which what became the University of Reading partly originated in 1892; and many others.
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. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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