Reading (Red'ding), a municipal, parliamentary, and county borough, capital of Berkshire, on the Kennet, near its influx to the Thames, 36 miles by rail W. of London (by road 39, by river 74). Its castle was wholly demolished by Henry II.; but the splendid Benedictine abbey, founded in 1121 by Henry I., who was buried here, is represented by considerable ruins and a fine gateway, restored in 1861, and surrounded by public gardens. Nine parliaments were held within its hall; the last of its mitred abbots was hanged by Henry VIII., with two of the brethren. There are handsome municipal buildings and two excellent town-halls, a lofty clock-tower, a free library, concert room, museum, etc. Other buildings are the Italian assize courts (1861); a large grammar-school (1486; rebuilt 1870-71), of which Dr Valpy was long head-master; St Lawrence's Church (1434; restored 1868), with a large flint tower 189 feet high; and the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Drainage-works were completed in 1874, waterworks in 1878; and the largest (59 acres) of three public parks was gifted in 1891 by Mr G. Palmer. Reading is an important mart for corn and other agricultural produce, and has manufactures of iron, paper, sauce, etc, whilst two of its industrial establishments are world-famous - Huntley and Palmer's huge biscuit factory and Sutton's seed-emporium. Reading, which is in the diocese of Oxford, gives title to a suffragan bishop. Its representation was reduced from two to one in 1885, when, however, the parliamentary borough was extended. The first charter was granted by Edward III. Pop. (1851) 21,456; (1891) 55,666; county borough (1901) 72,217. Reading suffered much from the Danes between 868 and 1006, and in 1643 surrendered to Essex after a ten days' siege. It was the birthplace of Archbishop Laud, Justice Talfourd, and Goldwin Smith. It has memories also of Chaucer and Bunyan. See works by Coates (1802-9), Man (1816), Doran (1835), and J. B. Jones (1870).
Beading, (1) a city of Pennsylvania, capital of Berks county, on the Schuylkill River, 58 miles by rail NW. of Philadelphia. It draws from the neighbouring hills its water-supply and abundant iron ore, the principal manufactories being iron and steel works. It also makes shoes, hats, beer, cigars, leather, paper, bricks, etc. Settled in 1748, it became a city in 1847. Pop. (1880) 43,278; (1900) 78,961, many of German descent. - (2) A town of Massachusetts, 12 miles NW. of Boston. Pop. 5000.