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The ruined remains of a Benedictine monastery, which was founded 1121 by Henry I and suppressed in 1539 by Henry VIII who used it as a royal house. It was originally intended to be England's finest Cluniac House, but transferred its allegiance to the Benedictines in the midddle of the 12th century. Excavations have discovered the east end of the abbey church and part of the cloisters, but 19th-20th century works have destroyed the west end of the church and the claustral complex. Ruins survive of the church's apsidal end, apsidal chapels and transepts, the chapterhouse and the West wall of the dorter and reredorter. The gate house to the abbey complex survives although this was rebuilt in the 19th century. (See SU 77 SW 125). Dependencies of the abbey were: Leominster, Cholsey Grange, St Mary Magdalene's Hospital and St John the Baptist's Hospital in Reading, and in Scotland, May-Pittenweem and Rindalgros. In 1539, after the dissolution of the abbey Henry VIII converted some of the buildings into a royal great house (probably based around the former abbot's house), which he visited in person as early as 1540. From about 1550 onward some of the remaining ecclesiastical buildings were demolished or partly taken down and the stonework used on bridges in the surrounding borough. In 1570 Queen Elizabeth I had extensive stables built. After the time of Elizabeth I the house began to be neglected. During the English Civil War at the seige of Reading in 1643 part of the ruined building were temporarily fortified by the Royalist troops.

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