Houses & Estates Talks Series

This all series ticket covers all three talks in the “Houses & Estates” talks series, for the discounted price of £12.50 (members £10.00). You may also book each talk individually – see each separate event page. All three talks are on Thursdays at 2pm in The Centre for Heritage and Family History, Reading. They last about an hour with time for questions and discussion afterwards. Tea, coffee and cake after the talk is included in the price.

Thursday 11 April “Tilehurst’s Big Houses: Dellwood, The Laurels & Kentwood” with Katie Amos

Katie Amos, Local Studies Lead for Reading Library, will be taking a look at three properties – Dellwood, an ex-maternity and care home, The Laurels, now the infant department of Park Lane School, and Kentwood Farmhouse, now flats. Each used to be a private house. Katie will reveal the tragedies, scandals and stories behind each one.

Thursday 9 May “Purley Hall and Charles Bridgeman” with Ben Viljoen

Our speaker is Ben Viljoen, a founder member of Berkshire Gardens Trust. Ben has always been interested in the history of 18th century English landscape gardening. He was delighted to find that both Charles Bridgeman, father of the English Landscape movement, and Humphry Repton, who succeeded Lancelot Brown, did work in Purley. His talk will be about the rich history of Purley Hall, a secluded Jacobean manor house that is not open to the public, and its connection with Charles Bridgeman.

Thursday 13 June “Caversham Park – 930 Years at the Centre of History” with Dr Stephen Goss

First recorded in Doomsday, Caversham Park has played a central role in British and international history for nearly a millennium. 

It was the seat of the so-called ‘best knight whoever lived’. The Manor of Caversham was embroiled in the Reformation. It was owned by cousins of Elizabeth I – who not only gave their name to current streets in Reading – but guarded Mary, Queen of Scots. Caversham Park both entertained the first two Stuart Kings and became a prison for Charles I. Learn about its role in the Glorious Revolution, the War of Spanish Succession, and its connections to the American War of Independence. The estate became a refuge in the First World War. It was taken over by the BBC during the Second. Hear how it became a centre for intelligence throughout the Second World War, the Cold War and the ‘War on Terror’. 

Find out more in these fascinating face-to-face talks. 

Pre-booking is preferred, but you can pay on the door for this series ticket at the first talk, if there are spaces available.  

Scroll down to book.


Thu 11 Apr




The Centre for Heritage & Family History
The Centre for Heritage & Family History
2nd Floor, Reading Central Library, Abbey Square, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 3BQ


The Centre - Berkshire FHS


  • Katie Amos
    Katie Amos
    Local Studies Lead, Reading Central Libraries

    Katie has been working at Reading Library for around 30 years, mostly in the Local Studies Department, where she is now Local Studies Lead. Through her work here, she has developed an interest in family history, and has been researching her own tree for the last 18 odd years. This led to her first book on her Timms family, and her second book came about from a customer request and is on the history of the Mansion House in Prospect Park. When not researching she loves contemporary English folk music, reading and also works for the Hexagon theatre as part of their front of house team.

  • Ben Viljoen

    Ben Viljoen is a founder member of the Berkshire Gardens Trust, which he helped set up to protect the garden heritage of West Berkshire. Ben has always been interested in the history of 18th century English landscape gardening, and was delighted to find that both Charles Bridgeman, father of the English Landscape movement and Humphry Repton who succeeded Lancelot Brown, did work in Purley, where he lives.

  • Dr Stephen Goss
    Dr Stephen Goss

    Dr Stephen Goss is a published historian and researcher who has been a popular speaker in local historical societies and community groups for a decade. He is also an award-winning local tour guide and the ward councillor for Emmer Green.

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