Finding Information on Local History

During the Caversham 100 years On Project, and in the course of other work, we have identified a wide range of sources of images and information which are set out below for others to explore and enjoy. The following sections are roughly in chronological order. At the end are sections with links to organisations that hold local historical information.

Old Maps - Online Sources

The National Library of Scotland's Maps Page has an excellent digitised archive, free to use, and includes 25" (1:2500) OS maps.

Their Georeferenced Page provides a postcode search. The maps here are c 1900, with other years available as individual sheets.

Old Maps is a commercial site with some free functionality, and additional 25" OS maps (1:2500) for 1878, 1899, 1913, 1932, 1965 which are useful to track changes.

History, Pre-History, Archaeology and Geology

These links include an overall history of Caversham:

A very brief history of Caversham is on the Caversham Traders' website.

Caversham in the last millennium and the last 150 years of the Mill Green area - In June 2000, Kathie and Al Summers produced this interesting account.

Theses links cover archaeological finds and the local geology:

Archaeological Finds in the Caversham Area

Emmer Green Chalk Mine - In 2003 Subterranea Britannica explored the Emmer Green (Hanover) South Chalk Mine and this is their report.

Mapledurham Playing Fields Archaeological Report - The landscape improvement plans included an archaeological assessment. This resulting report identified some interesting evidence of potential settlements, dating from the late iron age to the middle of the Roman occupation period.

Reading before Reading Abbey

Why did Henry I choose Reading for his Abbey? And where does the name Reading come from? A new book 'A Tale of Two Towns' is to be published. For more information watch this video -

William Marshal and Caversham

14 May 2019 marked 800 years since the death of William Marshal in Caversham.

Born as the younger son of a minor noble, William made his name in tournaments and the constant battles of the time as a formidable knight. His loyal service was rewarded with marriage to Isabel de Clare, heiress to extensive lands, including the Manor of Caversham. On the death of King John, he was appointed Regent to the nine-year-old Henry III. Thanks to him, a French invasion force was defeated at Lincoln in 1217, and both the Magna Carta, and the Plantagenet dynasty, survived. (On the right is his coat of arms)

Early in 1219, feeling his end was nigh, he wanted to come 'Home' to Caversham. He managed the affairs of state from his sickbed, while the court and Henry III remained over the Thames in Reading Abbey. He died on 14th May, after which his body was taken to Reading Abbey for a solemn mass, and thence to the Temple church in London for burial.,_1st_Earl_of_Pembroke

Drawing on the extraordinary History written after his death, many books have been written. Dr Thomas Asbridge, medieval history scholar at Queen Mary University of London and author of The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, gave an excellent lecture to a full hall at the 2019 CADRA AGM.

Thomas Asbride presented a BBC documentary about William Marshal.

The William Marshall Illustrated Panel, which CADRA developed, will be installed on the viewing platform of Caversham Bridge, as you look towards Deans Farm, where his home was thought to be and Reading Abbey, where his body was taken for a mass, before his burial at Temple Church, London.

Caversham Park

Caversham Park has its origins as a 13th century hunting ground, laid out by William Marshal's eldest son. Most recently it was the headquarters of BBC Monitoring; you can view a copy of their publication (by Brian Rotheray).
A History of Caversham Park

The Lovedays at Caversham Court

John Loveday was an antiquarian, traveller and philologist best known for the tours which he made and chronicled in Great Britain, Ireland and the Netherlands between 1728 and 1765. Thomas Loveday laid out the gardens at Caversham Court between 1660 and 1681 and the Lovedays lived at Caversham Court until the end of the eighteenth century. Sarah Markham (nee Loveday) transcribed many of the family manuscripts and this work is now being continued by her sons.

'From Village to Suburb: Caversham 1840 to 1911'- by Joan A Dils

by permission of Oxoniensa Online.

Joan Dils is a Visiting Research Fellow in History at the University of Reading with particular research interests in local communities of Berkshire and South Oxfordshire. This article, published in 1999, looks at the development of Caversham and the building of streets of terraces, suburban villas, schools, churches and commercial premises. It shows local maps and a wealth of detailed information.

Joan Dils, Oxoniensia, Vol. 64, 1999: 87-115. Read the full paper 

The Story behind Balmore House

The house was built in the 1850's by the Robinson family, as told in Kate Summerscale's book: Mrs Robinson's Disgrace: the private diary of a Victorian lady published by Bloomsbury in 2012.
Click here to read: The Story behind Balmore House 

Old Caversham – 1894

A copy of a lecture given in 1894 by Mr W Wing on 'Old Caversham'.

The 1910 Inland Revenue Survey

This was the first listing of property ownership since Domesday and it gives a starting point to the hundred years of Caversham's life that are being celebrated. See the National Archives.

It was carried out to have a base line for any inflation in house or land prices so that the government could levy a tax on the increase when the property next changed hands – in effect a capital gains tax on house sales – and was part of Lloyd George’s People’s Budget.

Every property was described in terms of its size, rooms, building materials, owner, leaseholder and tenant, as well as capital value and rent paid. Rows of terrace houses were under single ownership and the tenant often did not know who the owner was, just who collected the rent on his behalf.

The Inland Revenue started with large scale colour maps and worked out from them how each area would be covered. Field officers carried out the survey and recorded their findings, one page per property in a note book, whose number corresponded to the area on the map. The maps and notebooks are all at The National Archives at Kew.

Caversham Properties - Unfortunately the map for Caversham is lost but the note books are there and have the numbers IR 58/ 65104 and 65105 and 68918 – 68949. Caversham Court for example appears with a sketch map of the site and all the buildings, greenhouses and dog kennels identified on page 167 of field book IR 58 /68919.

World War I

Caversham in World War I - CADRA compiled an exhibition for display in Caversham Library.

Caversham War Memorial - The memorial on Christchurch Meadows, unveiled in 1928, is listed as a Grade II building by Historic England, giving the following principal reasons as: "Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on this local community, and the sacrifice it has made in the conflicts of the C20; * Architectural interest: as a simple, elegant, memorial which is stylistically redolent of its inter-war date."  More information can be viewed with the links.

A Street Near You provides a permanent reminder of how WWI affected every community accross the country. By searching your own local streets, you will find the names of all those who gave their lives in the 1914-18 world war.

Aerial Photographs 1920s

This collection of aerial photographs, taken between the WWI and WWII, includes a large number of Reading, seven of the Royal Agricultural Show in Caversham Park(July 1926), and three of Caversham in 1928 - one of each bridge and one of Thornycroft Engines with Elliots joinery in Lower Caversham. Go to: Britain from Above and search for Reading.

The Building of Caversham Park Village

When Caversham Park Village was still being built, Eric Sykes and the late, great Tommy Cooper starred in a film called "The Plank". It was filmed in 1967 during the construction of phase two. Watch the part of the film that was filmed in Elstow Avenue.
"The Plank" - A Piece of Caversham Park Village History on Film

Reading Museum

Reading Museum holds a varied collection of material found in or associated with Caversham; photographs, postcards and paintings show Caversham in the past, whilst objects provide tangible evidence for life from prehistoric to modern times.

Highlights of the collection include:

  • Palaeolithic handaxes from gravel pits in Caversham;
  • the remains of a Roman lead baptismal font;
  • a newel post from Caversham Court dated 1638;
  • the wooden gavel of Caversham Urban District Council;
  • the silver gilt key made for the 1926 opening of Caversham Bridge by the Prince of Wales*.

Daily life is represented by a servant's call board, fishmonger's price labels from J. Eighteens of Caversham, a brown paper bag from the Reading and Caversham Laundry Co Ltd and a flagon from J.Cheadle, Botanical Brewer of Caversham.

*View a British Pathe video of the Prince of Wales opening the new Caversham Bridge during an industrial visit to Reading in 1926.

The Berkshire Record Office

The Berkshire Record Office is based in Reading and provides an archive service for all places in the Royal County.

It holds many unique items relating to Caversham's history, including for its people, land and property, the River Thames, schools and charities. Amongst the archives of Caversham institutions kept at B.R.O are those of St Peter's and other local churches, Elliotts the joiners and the Caversham Urban District Council, which was abolished on the move to Reading in 1911.

New History of Caversham's Landscape, Settlement and Buildings

This interesting New History of our area, which although a text in progress, has lots of facts about this area from the earliest habitations until today, including the changing parish boundaries, ferries, roads, bridges, population growth and also the first settlements in South Oxfordshire.

This new history paper is part of ongoing research covering South Chilterns History (Scroll down for several papers about Caversham).

Reading Borough Libraries - Local Studies Illustrations: Caversham

The Local Studies section of Reading Library has a large collection of well catalogued illustrations, including many in Caversham, which can be searched at Local Ilustrations

Museum of English Rural Life Collections

MERL hold library books on local history and it also has a photographic archive including photographs of Caversham 1860-1930; they have kindly compiled a list of the photographs  for this project. Opening times can be found on the MERL website; all reserved library or archive items must be ordered beforehand.

Interview with Mary Kift 
A transcript of an interview with Mary Kift concerning her memoirs of the Women's Land Army dated 7 March 2006 (reference D DX1723) is available at MERL.


In 2011 Historypin worked with Reading Museum on a project to tell the history of Reading through the photos, stories and memories of the people of Reading. Historypin asked Reading residents of all ages to share their history and help collect the most complete record of the town that has ever been created; new projects and additions continue.

Changes in Local Rights of Way

Changes in local Rights of Way have been charted by the local Local Access Forum

Click here to view a presentation from 2011

Archaeological Finds in the Caversham Area

Courtesy of: Berkshire Archaeology

For more details you can view Berkshire Archaeology's Historic Environment Record (HER) by appointment at 3rd Floor, Reading Central Library or drop in (Open House) any Thursday between 12pm and 4pm.

View a Summary Report of Listed buildings in Caversham