The first evidence for Reading as a settlement dates from the 8th century. Reading was an important centre in the medieval period, as the site of Reading Abbey, a monastery with strong royal connections. The town was seriously impacted by the Civil War, with a major siege and loss of trade, and played a pivotal role in the Revolution of 1688, with that revolution’s only significant military action fought on the streets of the town. The 19th century saw the coming of the Great Western Railway and the development of the town’s brewing, baking and seed growing businesses.
Reading is a large town and unitary authority area in England. It is located in the Thames Valley at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, and on both the Great Western Main Line railway and the M4 motorway, some 40 miles (64 km) west of London.
The Borough of Reading has a population of 145,700 (2008 estimate) and the town formed the largest part of the Reading/Wokingham Urban Area which had a population of 369,804 (2001 census). The town is currently represented in the Uk parliament by two members, and has been continuously represented there since 1295. For ceremonial purposes the town is in the county of Berkshire and has served as its county town since 1867, previously sharing this status with Abingdon.