You may have heard a thing or two about Caversham – it’s pretty and has that village-y feel but I believe there’s more to the north of Reading than just being pretty. There’re places that tells local history and there’s something for everybody to do all year round. So, if you’re visiting Reading and have time to only do one thing let be a walk around Caversham.
I like to begin at Christchurch Meadows, because it’s the closest point in Caversham to the East of Reading where I usually come from. Christchurch Meadow is vast green space located on the bank of river Thames and it’s perfect for picnic, feeding ducks or just chilling out on a blanket.
If you’re a mum or dad of a little one, you’ll like the playground at Christchurch Meadows. It offers some unusual swings which you can enjoy even with a very small baby. There is the one that looks like a vertical hammock in which you can just sit back, cuddle your baby and both of you can enjoy beautiful relaxing moments. A bit older children will love the paddling pool and teenagers and grown ups will be happy to use tennis courts next to the playground.
If you’re in a strolling mood I’m sure you will enjoy walking along the Thames and watching the barges moored along the banks. Since opening of the pedestrian bridge you can also enjoy a better view of the island on Thames.
The bridge was officially named less than a month ago as “Christchurch Bridge”. As I read on Altreading.com,
“According to Reading Council, Christchurch Meadows’ name refers to Christchurch College in Oxford whose Dean owned 25 acres of farmland in Reading.”
Other names people could vote for were less obvious and included Cusden Bridge, De Montfort Bridge and William Marshal Bridge. None of them speaks to me but I was still hoping for something less obvious to win – something relating to leisure or the fact that the bridge links the opposite sides of the river (like most bridges do 😉 and makes that connection between one side of the town and the other. I believe people will name it something different soon anyway that will better reflect its role in the community.
Whenever I’m in Caversham it’s very hard not to pay a visit to beautiful Caversham Court Gardens. There’re a few reasons for that and one of them is definitely the Tea Kiosk.
Tea Kiosk at Caversham Court gardens is an absolute hit for me and if I could (eat cake every day) I would be visiting it every day. It’s a very different coffee place than those you know from high streets. It’s run by five charities (The League of Friends, Sue Ryder/Duchess of Kent, The Ways and Means Trust, The Women’s Institute, Compass Opportunities) and volunteers from each of them serves the customers on a different day of the week. They sell home made cakes as well as tea and coffee. Sweets include typical British specials, such as Victoria sponge, coffee and walnut cake and many others. And their prices are so low. I can’t possibly describe in words how cosy and cute this little place is. They have a few tables laid out in front of the kiosk overlooking the Thames. I could spend hours sitting there.
When I’m at Caversham Court Gardens I always happen to talk to somebody – on one occasion I spoke to the gardener. He told me the story of the court as well as invited me to Christmas Carols in the gardens. Even with a small baby, me and my husband managed to go for the event last year and sing a few carols. It was absolutely magical experience that I won’t forget. It can only be compared, in my opinion, to an experience of midnight mass on Christmas Eve.
Even when there’s nothing happening in the gardens it’s such a beautiful place to visit. With the Thames at your feet and St Peter’s church on the hill behind you and with all those beautiful flowers and plants around it’s a unique experience. Climb up the stairs among oriental plants to the church hill and enjoy even a better view and even more peace.
From there it’s only a few yards The Mount. The street looks more interesting than it actually is but it’s worth climbing up a little bit to walk among pretty houses and eventually get to a medieval well of St Anne. Many centuries ago people believed in its healing water and pilgrimages were coming here from all over the place. Today it is a little bit forgotten but still standing there waiting for those urban walkers braving the back streets of Caversham.
From there it’s not far to Siblings Home. It’s a lovely café opened by a brother and sister and I think it fits the environment very well. Interior design and food is simple but as tasty as it should be. They’re friendly with one of my favourite magazines Kinfolk. Apart from the food, you can buy some things for your hoe too and find out about local events. When I was once strolling in Caversham, I literally prayed for this café to appear… My daughter was hungry and I wasn’t very keen on going to Costa but wanted a place with character and somewhere fairly quiet to feed the baby. And there it was – absolutely perfect. I’ve returned there many times since and enjoyed every time.
When you go back to the high street there’s another historical treat waiting there for you. A house that looks like it used to be a church has always attracted my attention and encouraged my curiosity. Finally, thanks to the Caversham Heritage Map I found out it was West Memorial Hall, built in 1865–6 as the first Baptist Free Church, it became the British School when the existing church opened across the road in 1877. Both churches were designed in the Gothic style by Alfred Waterhouse, who also designed Reading Town Hall and the Natural History Museum. Today, there are flats inside and the same as with the water tower on Bath Road, I would love to have a sneak peak inside.
From the West Hall it’s not far to Christchurch Meadows. If you haven’t yet made use of any of the coffee places I mentioned or you still have a space for a top up go to Whittington’s Tea Barge, moored on the east side of Reading Bridge. Whether you’re there in time for afternoon tea or not enjoy what they have to offer, because you may not get another chance to sit on a barge like that with food and tea served in beautiful china.
Do you work or live in Caversham? Have you ever been in the area? Share your experience and tell us about the best spots in comments.
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