FORBURY GARDENSAn award winning Blue Flag park in the heart of Reading town centre. Originally the forecourt of Reading Abbey, the grounds were laid out between 1856 and 1864 in typically structured Victorian style. The gardens are dominated by the Maiwand Lion, an 1886 memorial to the dead of the 66th Berkshire Regiment who fell during the battles of Maiwand and Kandahar at the end of the second Afghan War. Designed by George Blackall-Simonds, it is one of the world’s largest bronze statues at 31 feet long.
READING ABBEYFounded in 1121 by King Henry I, the Abbey was one of Western Europe’s most prestigious religious and political centres, and one of the ten wealthiest monastic houses in England by the 14th century. It changed the shape of Reading, making it the most important town in the Thames Valley. After the Dissolution, in 1539, the buildings were used as a stone quarry and most of them rapidly disappeared.
REME MUSEUM OF TECHNOLOGYLocated 6 miles (10 km) south east of Reading, the museum holds collections of various technological artifacts associated with the work of the REME, the corps of the British Army responsible for the maintenance, servicing and inspection of electrical and mechanical equipment. The main museum also houses The Medal Room, a display of medals awarded to REME soldiers and officers, including a Conspicuous Gallantry Cross and a Victoria Cross.
Mon-Thu: 9am-4.30pm, Fri: 9am-4pm, Sat: Closed, Sun: 11am- 4pm
MUSEUM OF ENGLISH RURAL LIFE (MERL)A museum dedicated to recording the changing face of farming and the countryside in England. It houses the most comprehensive national collection of objects, books and archives relating to the history of food, farming and the countryside. It is the sheer quality and scope of the Library, Archives and Object Collections that makes MERL exceptional. The collections have Designated status ensuring their importance is recognised nationally and internationally.
Mon: Closed, Tue-Fri: 9am-5pm, Sat-Sun: 2pm- 4.30pm
BASILDON PARKA Georgian mansion surrounded by parkland, was lovingly rescued by Lord and Lady Iliffe in the mid 1950s. The house you see today is a re-creation and restoration of the 18th-century mansion. They restored the elegant interior and scoured the country salvaging 18th-century architectural fixtures and fittings. Lord and Lady Iliffe filled their comfortable new home with fine paintings, fabrics and furniture, which can still be enjoyed by you today. Basildon Park featured in the special Christmas episode of the popular period drama, ITV's Downton Abbey on Christmas Day 2013 and was watched by over 10 million people.
Feb-Dec: Grounds: 10am-5pm, House: 12am- 5pm
WINDSOR CASTLEThe oldest and largest occupied castle in the world and the Official Residence of Her Majesty The Queen. Its rich history spans almost 1000 years. The original castle was built in the 11th century after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I, it has been used by succeeding monarchs and it is the longest occupied palace in Europe. The Castle covers an area of about 5 hectares (13 acres) and contains: Magnificent State Apartments furnished with treasures from the Royal Collection, St. George's Chapel (one of the most beautiful ecclesiastical buildings in England and the burial place of 10 monarchs), Queen Mary's Dolls House (a masterpiece in miniature) and the Drawings Gallery.
Mar-Oct: 9.45am-5.15pm, Nov-Feb: 9.45am- 4.15pm
MADEJSKI STADIUMMADEJSKI STADIUM It is the home of Reading Football Club playing in the Football League Championship and the rugby union club London Irish as tenants. It also provides the finish for the Reading Half Marathon.
MUSEUM OF READINGA museum of the history of the town of Reading, in the English county of Berkshire, and the surrounding area. It is accommodated within Reading Town Hall, and contains galleries describing the history of Reading and its related industries, a gallery of artifacts discovered during the excavations of Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester Roman Town), a copy of the Bayeux Tapestry and an art collection.
Mon: Closed, Tue-Sat: 10am-4pm, Sun: 11am- 4pm
MAPLEDURHAM HOUSE AND WATERMILLAfter centuries of turmoil, Mapledurham House now enjoys a more peaceful existence. Full of the treasures of an exciting history, a visit to Mapledurham House makes for a fascinating and pleasant day out. The Mill at Mapledurham is the only mill on the Thames still working and producing high-quality stone-ground flour and was here at the time of the Domesday Survey.
Sat, Sun & BH from 19 Apr-20 Sep 2014: 2pm-5.30pm
BEALE PARKThe place to be with fun, adventure, animals, gardens, play and activities on the banks of the picturesque River Thames. It was founded in 1956 by Gilbert Beale who created the Child Beale Trust, a charitable organisation, dedicated to the care and conservation of rare and endangered animals. The Park has grown considerably over the years, attracting many friends and supporters. A great day out for all ages near Pangbourne in Berkshire.
Daily High Season: 10am-6pm and Low Season: 10am-5pm
HENLEY-ON-THAMESA world-renowned centre for rowing. Each summer the Henley Royal Regatta is held on Henley Reach, a naturally straight stretch of the river just north of the town. It was extended artificially. The event became "Royal" in 1851, when Prince Albert became patron of the regatta. Other regattas and rowing races are held on the same reach, including Henley Women's Regatta, the Henley Boat Races for women's and lightweight teams between Oxford and Cambridge University, Henley Town & Visitors Regatta, Henley Veteran Regatta, Upper Thames Small Boats Head, Henley Fours and Eights Head, and Henley Sculls.
COLE MUSEUM OF ZOOLOGYA world-renowned centre for rowing. Each summer the Henley Royal Regatta is held on Henley Reach, a naturally straight stretch of the river just north of the town. It was extended artificially. The event became "Royal" in 1851, when Prince Albert became patron of the regatta. Other regattas and rowing races are held on the same reach, including Henley Women's Regatta, the Henley Boat Races for women's and lightweight teams between Oxford and Cambridge University, Henley Town & Visitors Regatta, Henley Veteran Regatta, Upper Thames Small Boats Head, Henley Fours and Eights Head, and Henley Sculls.
NATURE DISCOVERY CENTRE - THATCHAMThis fantastic visitor centre is packed full of interactive wildlife and natural history displays. There is a network of footpaths ranging from small family-friendly walks to longer paths for the more adventurous, and the bird hide offers a perfect opportunity to watch the world go by.
Daily: High Season: 10.30am-5pm and Low Season: 10.30am-4pm
HIGHCLERE CASTLEThe home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. Highclere is known to many of you, however, as the fictional house in the world famous TV series Downton Abbey. Apart from exploring the Castle, the Egyptian Exhibition fascinates adults and children, whilst the surrounding Grounds and Gardens provide peace and tranquillity. When you visit, you will recognise many rooms from “Downton Abbey." You will see the Drawing Room in which Maggie Smith delivered many a withering comment to some unfortunate relation. In addition you can also find Tutankhamun in the cellars.
July to September: Sun-Thu: 10.30am-6pm
ORACLE SHOPPING CENTREThe centre contains 90 shops, including department stores from the Debenhams and House of Fraser chains. A third and larger department store, John Lewis, is adjacent to the Minster Street entrance but not part of the centre itself. There are also 22 restaurants, cafés and bars along the riverside of the Kennet, and an 11-screen Vue cinema.
DINTON PASTURES COUNTRY PARKAt just over 335 acres, the park is open daily throughout the year. It offers a variety of habitats including 7 lakes, 2 rivers, and meadows. Three public bird hides provide secret viewing of the waterfowl, with one specially adapted for wheelchair users. Electric buggies are now available for disabled visitors to hire free of charge.
GREYS COURTA picturesque 16th-century mansion and tranquil gardens set in the rolling hills of the Chilterns. The series of walled gardens is a colourful patchwork of interest set amid medieval ruins. Other buildings from earlier eras include the Great Tower from the 12th century and a rare Tudor donkey wheel, in use until the early 20th century.
Daily: Gardens: 10am-5pm / House: 1pm-5pm / House Tours: 11am-5pm
HENLEY-ON-THAMES RIVER AND ROWING MUSEUMOpened in 1998 to celebrate the River, the international sport of Rowing and the town of Henley-on-Thames. From 2004 a fourth permanent gallery, the delightful Wind in the Willows exhibition, was added.
Daily: High Season: 10am-5.30pm and Low Season: 10am-5pm
NEWBURY RACECOURSENewbury Racecourse is famous for both flat and National Hunt jump racing. Look out for Family Fun Days, or Ladies Day in August. Rub shoulders with the rich in the Premier Enclosure as you cheer on your horse.
DONNINGTON CASTLEThe striking twin-towered 14th-century gatehouse of this castle, later the focus of a Civil War siege and battle, survives amid impressive earthworks.
STANLAKE PARK WINE ESTATEAcres of neat vines laden with many varieties of plump grapes; Gamay, Ortega, Wurzer and the classic Champagne varieties: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. They ripen in the warm sun and thrive in the loamy, well-drained soil before being harvested and turned into wine in the state-of-the-art and on-site winery.
THE LIVING RAINFORESTAn indoor greenhouse tropical rainforest located in Hampstead Norreys in Berkshire, England. It is a popular ecological centre, educational centre and visitor attraction, run by the Trust for Sustainable Living.
WARBURG NATURE RESERVEHigh up in the Chiltern hills, it is a magnificent place for its wild, remote tranquillity. The flower-rich grasslands in the valley bottom give way to grand woodlands rising up the valley sides. With a visitor centre, bird hides, picnic area and resident warden to help with queries, Warburg Nature Reserve is a great place to bring your family. There are even wildlife explorer packs you can borrow to help you explore.
STONOR PARKAn historic country house situated in a valley in the Chiltern Hills about 4 miles north of Henley-on-Thames. The house has a 12th-century private chapel and the remains of a prehistoric stone circle in the grounds. Behind the main house, there is a walled garden in an Italianate style on a rising slope, providing good views. Around the house is a park with a herd of fallow deer.
Sundays from April to September: Gardens & Chapel: 1pm-5.30pm & House: 2pm-5.30pm
THE THAMES PATHWhat could be more pleasant than an afternoon spent strolling along England's greatest river. The well-worn Thames Path path follows the length of Father Thames for 184 miles from close to its source in Gloucestershire, through several rural counties and on to London where it comes to an end at the Thames Barrier and spills into the Thames estuary. Strike out by foot, cycle, ride or cruise the calm water on a narrow boat.