The Ballad of Reading Abbey
I bet you didn't know Reading had an abbey! I didn't until I was in Reading with a couple of hours to spare the other day.
The abbey is in ruins, but ruins to relish. And it's right in the heart of the city. It's free too!
This was once one of Europe's largets royal monasteries, encompassing a much bigger area than is now taken up by the ruins.
Reading Abbey was founded by Henry I in 1121. And he was buried there fourteen years later when the abbey was still under construction.
And it does have a ballad, after a fashion. It's believed that one of the earliest of English non-devotional songs (to survive that is), Sumer is Icumen In, was composed at the abbey almost 800 years ago.
And if you are wondering what that song sounds like, well, here you are!
Inevitably, the abbey got knocked about a bit during Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries, and suffered again in the following century during the Civil War.
The ruins have been very nicely spruced up as well as opened up - do give it a gander!
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