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Christchurch Green – Celebrating The Heritage and History

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A new heritage board celebrating the history of Christchurch Green, and its links with the University of Reading, was unveiled at an opening ceremony on Wednesday 21 February.

The board, which was unveiled by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Van de Noort, is located at the junction of Shinfield Road, Christchurch Road and Redlands Road, close to the main entrance of the University’s Whiteknights campus.

It has been installed by the Friends of Christchurch Green, with help from various community partners, including the University of Reading, local charity RGSpaces, Equal Studio Ltd. and Reading Borough Council.

The idea for this heritage board came from the artist Jenny Halstead, known locally for the Whiteknights Studio Trail.

Jenny said: “I wanted to celebrate this area, where five roads meet, linking the community to the University‘s beautiful Whiteknights campus. Even in an age of information, a permanent site offers an introduction to the area, and creates a sense of belonging to new students and new residents alike.

“We are grateful to all the partners involved in helping to make this idea a reality.”

The board gives a short history of the Christchurch Green area, how it evolved in relation to the town’s four main industries – biscuits, bulbs, beer and bricks, and its connection to the University. The board also features an image circa 1906 looking up Shinfield Road from the Green, as well some information about three prominent individuals that connected the University with the local community:

  • Alfred Waterhouse, the renowned Victorian architect who designed the Natural History Museum, Reading School, the Museum of English Rural Life and Foxhill House, located on Whiteknights campus
  • Edith Morley, England’s first female professor and Kendrick Road resident
  • Harold Hopkins, physicist and innovator of modern day keyhole surgery

The back of the board shows a map of the area in 1840, a rural landscape showing only Christchurch Road and Red Lane (now Redlands Road) before either Elmhurst, Marlborough or Northcourt Avenue were even built.

Professor Robert Van de Noort, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading, said: “This heritage board serves as a fantastic reminder for all about our connection with the local community, now and in the past.”

Fiona Talkington, local resident and BBC Radio 3 Presenter, grew up around Christchurch Green and says: “I crossed over the Green to get to school, I had my first job in the shops at the Green and during lockdown I presented my radio shows from home close to the Green. It’s a place held in great affection by many.”