Forbury Gardens & other works with Reading Borough Council
The Forbury District in Reading has a long and very interesting history. Originally Forbury or ''borough in front of '' was land set aside for meeting between the Abbey (thought to be the resting place of King Henry I and sacked after the dissolution of the monastaries) and the town of Reading. The Hill in the gardens was constructed in 1150 by Matilda the daughter of Henry I to aid in the defence of the town and was used again as a gun emplacement in 1642, during the English Civil War. During the Napoleonic wars the space was used as a parade ground for military drills
In 1856 the area was changed into a pleasure garden, which is very much like we know it today, including the Lion statue which was erected to commemorate 286 soldiers who died at the battle of Maiwand in 1880.
Continuing with the martial theme, an acorn was planted in the garden that was collected at the site of the battle of Verdun during World War I. The commemorate nature of this tree, which now stands tall in the gardens, was forgotten about until The Woodland Trust traced the tree and was reported by The BBC, and in 2016 the Trooper Potts Victoria Cross memorial was unveiled.
In partnership with Reading borough council, we have carried out various repairs in the Forbury District. The most complex of which was the wall around St Lawrence Church. It had been left derelict for over a decade and had only not collapsed due to the scaffolding placed around it. The project was complex due to the mature trees in the graveyard, which had to be secured from falling after we undermined them when we took down the wall. Large ground anchors were drilled into the ground and then attached to the trees. Whilst we took the wall down into the higher ground in the church yard, we worked with an archaeologist who was on site in case we found anything of historical significance . The existing wall was built in three different times; on top were hand made Victorian bricks, the bottom bricks we are estimating to be Georgian, and we believe that the stone, flint and brick wall that returns on to the church itself dates to part of the fortifications of the English Civil War. Because of the different periods that these were built, it meant that we had to have several different size of bricks made bespoke for this project.
We with Reading borough council maintain this public space. We have carried out repairs to the bandstand by replacing the spindles which we turned bespoke to the original pattern, and redecorating completely. All the boundary walls which range from flint walls that were built from materials from the fallen Abbey, to red brick Victorian walls that showcase the bricks that made Reading the centre of the brick-making industry in the the country have all been repaired by our team of specialist bricklayers and masons.