From a Special Correspondent
The well-known property of St. James, Abbey Ruins, Reading, Berks, is in need of extensive repair, which would, however, put it in permanently sound condition.
Built on the site of the ancient Benedictine Abbey of Reading, the church, house, and school occupy roughly the space once taken by the north transept and the tower of the great Abbey church of bygone days.
All around are the massive remnants of the past, and the picturesque address, Abbey Ruins," needs no explaining to the caller. The present church, built in 1837 through the munificence of the Wheble family, whose graves adjoin it, is said' to be the only Norman church designed by Pugin.
In the walls, especially the Presbytery walls and the main wall that separates the property ft um the public gardens, numerous carved pieces of stonework from the old Abbey can be seen, and probably the mass of flints from which the church and most of the surrounding walls are built came front the general rubble of the ruins.
WHERE MARTYRS DIED
The baptismal font too and the capitals supporting it are relics of the Abbey. Close to the Presbytery, in Abbot's Walk, can be seen the one remaining Abbey Gate; the one where Blessed Hugh Cook Farinedon. the last Abbot of Reading, Blessed John Eynon, and Blessed John Rugg, were hanged.
The original • modern parish of St. James was divided into two in 1935. What was left was subdivided into four parishes in 1946; so that the present. parish of St. James is small, and the people, though so proud of the Place, are far too poor to do it the material reverence that is needed now. Since therefore. this property is a Catholic monument of public interest, it has been decided,. with the approval of Mgr. King, Bishop of Portsmouth. to ask Catholics at large for help.
An appeal for funds towards the cost of repairs has been issued by the Rt. Rev. Basil Christopher Butler, 0.S.B., Abbot of Downside, the Rt. Rev. Ignatius Sylvester Mooney. 0.S.B., Abbot of Douai, P. J. Murphy O'Conner, K.S.G., John Eppstein. and the parish priest of St. James. the Rev. J. P. Murphy, to whom all contributions should be sent.