A book by a good friend of mine has reached a second edition. It was originally published in order to mark the opening of Waterstones in Reading on the site of an old Independent chapel there in the mid 1990’s.
The book tells the story of the chapel and the numerous colourful figures who both worshipped and preached there. On a broader scale the author also traces the history of non-conformism in the town going as far back as he can and puts the history of this chapel into this broader context.
A short, easy to read, pamphlet, it provides an interesting commentary on both the region and the chapel itself.
Although the chapel fell into disuse during the early 20th century as the town expanded, very little of the interior architecture has been altered. The balconies are still there as are a couple of windows. During the Waterstones preparations the gravestone of one of the more controversial ministers there was rediscovered after centuries of being lost. The author went on site to make a sketch of the inscription on it. It was lucky that he did, as it was shortly after accidentally destroyed by one of the contractors. So this book remains the only place to see that particular artifact.
So, an interesting history then and worth a peruse by anybody interested in ecclesiastical history.