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Venues and Travel

Annual School Venues

Registration & Tour departure - Thursday

Ibis Reading Centre
25a Friar Street, Reading, RG1 1DP

Drinks Reception - Thursday

Museum of English Rural Life (MERL)
6 Redlands Rd, Reading RG1 5EX

The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) has a diverse and surprising exploring how the skills and experiences of farmers and craftspeople, past and present, can help shape our lives now and into the future, and the ongoing relevance of the countryside to all our lives.

The Museum, founded in 1951, is housed in East Thorpe, a building designed by Sir Alfred Waterhouse in 1880 for local businessman Alfred Palmer, of the Huntley & Palmer biscuit company. The house became St Andrews Hall of Residence in 1911, and in 2005 the house was extended for the Museum. This scheme retains the original East Thorpe building, with the addition of an adjoining new building. The two contrasting buildings overlook restored gardens, providing a setting for a rural collection in an urban environment.

The Museum was awarded £1.8million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in 2014 for the redevelopment of the galleries, reopening in October 2016.

Waterhouse’s Designs for East Thorpe, Redlands Road, Reading

Day School – Friday

Victoria Hall, Reading Town Hall
Blagrave Street, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 1QH

The building now known as Reading Town Hall are actually a number of civic spaces and functions. These include the former Council Chamber, the Small Town Hall (now called the Victoria Hall and the venue for the Day School), the Concert Hall, the museum, the former School of Art and Science and the former library.

Constructed in 1871-1872 to the designs of Alfred Waterhouse, 1879-1882 by Thomas Lainson, 1896-1897 by John James Cooper and William Roland Howell. With later C20 and C21 additions and restoration by Architects Design Partnership in 1988-1989 and also in 1993 and 2000. The complex of interconnected buildings also contains the Victoria Hall (formerly Small Town Hall) of 1785-1786, designed by Charles Poulton and remodelled in 1863 by WH Woodman. The impressive internal spaces dating from the C19 have been retained with little alteration to their original appearance.

The Day School is being held in the building which has been known as the Town Hall, the Small Town Hall and, now, the Victoria Hall. Originally a plain brick classical building designed by Charles Poulton in 1785-1786 as a concert hall for the town it was given an internal, Italianate scheme of decoration in 1863 by WH Woodman and an organ designed by Father Willis was installed.

Alfred Waterhouse’s 1870’s extensions supplement the medieval Greyfriars Hospitium building and mask the classical town hall in a style which unites the grouping and provides a focal point with a prominent clock tower. This range was then further extended in 1879-1882 by Thomas Lainson. His range, in a C13 style, followed the lead set by Waterhouse’s work and included a new concert hall into which the Father Willis organ was moved from the Small Town Hall.

Reading Town Hall List Description

Reading Town Hall website

Reading Town hall history

Annual Dinner – Friday

Wantage Hall
Upper Redlands Road, Reading, Berks RG1 5JG

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The Annual Dinner is being held in the Wantage Dining Hall on the edge of the University of Reading’s Whiteknights campus.

Wantage Hall is a Tudor style building designed by Charles Steward Smith in 1906-08 with an interesting quadrangle plan-form, quality materials and detailing. It was built by Harriet, Lady Wantage in memory of her husband Robert Loyd-Lindsay, 1st Baron Wantage. It is a very early hall of residence drawing on the historic Oxbridge college tradition but was a pioneer of C20 university collegiate accommodation and which was to become the model for subsequent university colleges and halls of residence.

The Annual Dinner will be held in the impressive Oxbridge College type Dining Hall with its solid timber hammer-beam roof and attractive curved braces. It has a wealth of character Tudor style features: Original wooden and metal chandeliers, windows with coloured glass shields and crests a large open fireplace with stone Tudor surround and carved spandrels and a substantial decorative carved timber fire surround and overmantle.

Wantage Hall list description

Virtual Tour of Wantage

Wantage Hall is 1.3 miles (around 30 minutes walk) from the centre of Reading (Reading Town Hall, Ibis Reading centre etc). If you are travelling by car, please use Car Park 1a at the Shinfield Road entrance to the campus (Sports Park) and walk from there to Wantage. The car park has two publicly available car charging points.

Tour departure - Saturday

Ibis Reading Centre
25a Friar Street, Reading, RG1 1DP

Accommodation in Reading

Main conference hotel

Hotel accommodation is included with a limited number of Full School places but School delegates not booking this option may want to start looking for accommodation at the main conference hotel Ibis Reading Centre

Ibis Reading Centre
25a Friar Street,

Other accommodation in Reading can be found at Visit Reading

IHBC Enterprises gives no assurance that the details provided are accurate and all are necessarily subject to change. IHBC Enterprises does not recommend or endorse any organisations providing travel or accommodation. IHBC Enterprises will not be responsible for any costs incurred in the event of cancellation.

Travelling to Reading

Reading is one of the best-connected towns in the UK, offering lots of travel options and excellent transport links. Reading is just 22 minutes from London on the Elizabeth Line.

By Train

Reading Station is one of the busiest on the national rail network and has direct routes to almost every part of the UK, just 22 minutes by train from London Paddington on a fast GWR mainline service or direct from Central London on the Elizabeth Line.

Reading is linked north, south, east and west by rail. Great Western Railway (GWR) operates the mainline service between London and Bristol/Wales, with most fast trains stopping at Reading. South West Trains operate services to the south and Cross Country Trains operates services between the south coast and the north of England/Scotland which stop at Reading.

Transport for London (TfL) Rail operates the stopping Elizabeth Line service between central London and Reading making Reading directly accessible from Canary Wharf, The City and the West End.

By Car

Reading is located on the M4, the main motorway East-West from London to Wales. Reading is served by junctions 10, 11 and 12 and the town centre is just 2 miles north of Junction 11, making Reading an easy place to travel by car.

For those travelling to Reading by road, there are both multi-storey and pay and display car parks in and around the town centre, as well as two Park and Ride services at Winnersh and Grazeley (East and South of the centre), offering more sustainable travel options.

By Air

Heathrow Airport - The RailAir coach link departs approximately every 20 minutes from Reading Station with services to all Heathrow terminals (return journeys are from the central coach station). If travelling to Heathrow it’s better to use the coach service from Reading Station, rather than the Heathrow Express train service. The latter takes you into Paddington, London, where you’d need change - adding to your journey.

Gatwick Airport – regular stopping train service from Reading Station, departing every half hour at peak times.

By coach

RailAir coaches run from Heathrow direct to Reading Station up to every 20 minutes and take approximately 45 minutes. National Express coach routes stop at both Mereoak Park&Ride (just off junction 11 on the M4), and Reading Station, in the town centre. Visit the National Express website for full timetable and route information.


You'll find lots of taxis at both the north and south exits of Reading Station. On the town centre side (south), the main rank is down the stairs/ramp to your right as you leave the station. There are also taxis straight ahead as you walk towards the town centre.

Reception Sponsor

Friend of the School

Friend of the School

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