Visiting the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, England: sedate birthplace of HRH Catherine (Kate), Duchess of Cambridge
Georgian architecture; and the historic birth of Kate Middleton
The architect for the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, Berkshire, England, was Henry Briant (1), and construction on the main portion of this fine, Georgian building was begun in 1837 and completed in 1839. The building is executed in Bath stone.
Extensions, in keeping with the Georgian style of the building, were built between 1861 and 1862 and again between 1872 and 1873 (2).
Subsequently in the late 19th century a chapel was built, designed by Joseph Morris, who had also had a part in the design of other, extensions to the building.
Interestingly, while readers may recall 1837 as having been the year of accession of Queen Victoria (b.1819, reigned 1837-1901), the building was started in the reign of Victoria's predecessor, King William IV (b. 1765, reigned 1830-1837). Thus, it is the Royal arms of William IV which appear on the pediment of the main frontage to the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Below this pediment, the front portico has six Ionic columns.
On January 9, 1982, an event occurred at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, Berkshire, England, with significance for the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth: Catherine (Kate) Middleton was born, who in 2011, became Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, when Miss Middleton married His Royal Highness Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (1982-).
The building contains a museum, known as the Berkshire Medical Heritage Centre, containing some thousands of display items relating to medical history.
Another fact worth noting about the Royal Berkshire Hospital is that. when it was originally built, it received a substantial endowment from the Great Western Railway. Reading has long been an important railroad centre and during the construction of the railroad locally many workmen were injured, and given treatment at an existing dispensary facility in the town. This in turn led to Great Western Railway's generous donation to the new Royal Berkshire Hospital.
Although the building is not open to sightseers as such, excellent views of the impressive, Georgian frontage may be obtained from London Road.
October 4, 2012
(1) Henry Briant was also responsible for many buildings in the locality.
(2) Some of the modern extensions to the Hospital are accessed via Craven Street and are out of the line of vision to the visitor who approaches the Hospital from the main frontage facing London Road.
Also worth seeing
In Reading itself, at the nearby London Road site of Reading University, the Great Hall, the War Memorial Tower and the Old Library are of note; as are, on other sites, Wantage Hall and St Patrick's Hall, and Foxhill. Reading Abbey ruins include the Hospitium, formerly housing the 19th century College from which Reading University later developed. The Church of St Lawrence in Reading is a Medieval landmark.
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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