rĕd´ĭng, borough and unitary authority (1991 pop. 194,727), S central England, on the Kennet River near its influx to the Thames. Reading, which was the seat of the former county of Berkshire, is a market center with iron founding, engineering, malting, brewing, and biscuit and seed industries. It was occupied in 871 by the Danes, who burned it in 1006. A gateway and ruins of buildings, surrounded by a public park, remain of a Benedictine abbey founded in 1121 by Henry I, who is buried there. Several parliaments met in the abbey. In 1643 the town surrendered to the parliamentarians under the 3d earl of Essex. There are a 15th-century grammar school, the Reading College of Technology, and the Univ. of Reading (1926; formerly a college, founded 1892, of the Univ. of Oxford). Oscar Wilde's Ballad of Reading Gaol was inspired by his imprisonment there, and Reading is the Aldbrickham of Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure.
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