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The University of Reading

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A scene from 'The Ivory Door', presented by the Gild of the Red Rose.

The University of Reading has a long and interesting history dating back to the late nineteenth century.

The institution's origins lie in the School of Art, established in 1860 in a building on Valpy Street which is now part of Reading Museum, and the School of Science, established in 1870. In 1892, University Extension College was opened by Christ Church, Oxford, incorporating the School of Art, School of Science and Oxford University Extension Classes. In 1896 a Grant of Arms was awarded to the college.

In 1904, the London Road campus was donated to the college by the Palmer family (of the famous local biscuit makers Huntley & Palmers). Wantage Hall was opened in 1908 and The Research Institute in Dairying was established four years later. In 1926, a Royal Charter was granted which enabled the University to award its own degrees. It was the only university to have such a charter granted to it between the First and Second World Wars. Whiteknights campus was purchased in 1947 from Marquis of Blandford.

The Museum of English Rural Life was founded in 1951 on Whiteknights campus. The museum grew out of the university's long academic connections with agriculture. It now occupies the house once known as 'East Thorpe' on Redlands Road. The house was designed in 1880 by Alfred Waterhouse for Alfred Palmer. In 1911 it became a female hall of residence for the university before being redeveloped for the use of the museum. The Museum of English Rural Life opened on this new site in 2005. The university also has other museums and collections: the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology, the Cole Museum of Zoology, Special Collections (mainly archive material), Typography collections and a Herbarium. Many of Reading Museum's Greek pots are on loan to the Ure Museum.

Throughout the twentieth century, the University of Reading played an important part in the local community from its sporting events to its theatre productions as well as providing a venue for many local events and even radio broadcasts and archaeological excavation.

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