Oracle (workhouse)

Coordinates: 51°27′16″N 0°58′20″W / 51.454417°N 0.972203°W / 51.454417; -0.972203
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The Oracle gateway, c. 1845.jpg
The Oracle in Minster Street, c. 1845 by William Fox Talbot
Oracle (workhouse) is located in Reading Central
Oracle (workhouse)
Location within Reading Town Centre
General information
LocationReading, Berkshire, England
Coordinates51°27′16″N 0°58′20″W / 51.454417°N 0.972203°W / 51.454417; -0.972203

The Oracle was a workhouse that produced cloth in the English town of Reading, Berkshire. The Oracle shopping centre, which now occupies a small part of the site, takes its name from the Oracle workhouse.


In the 17th century, clothiers in Reading were facing competition from the north of England, where taxes were lower.[1] On 30 December 1624, John Kendrick a clothier died leaving £7,500 to Reading and £4,000 to Newbury to help their cloth industries.[1] John Kendrick's father and brother had a textile factory in Minster Street. The factory was sold to the Council for £2,000, and alterations were carried out to make it suitable for use as a workhouse. The new facility opened in 1628.[2] It stretched from the top of Minster Street 30 metres (98 ft) down along the Holy Brook. William Kendrick chose the name "Oracle" to honour his brother John, whose idea launched the facility.[3]

The Oracle remained in use until the 19th century, and the building was demolished in 1850.[4]


  1. ^ a b "The founding of the Oracle". Reading History Trail. Archived from the original on 9 September 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  2. ^ "The Oracle Workhouse Site". Oracle. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  3. ^ "John Kendrick (1573-1624)". Royal Berkshire History. Nash Ford Publishing. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  4. ^ Phillips, Daphne (1980). The Story of Reading. Countryside Books. pp. 51–54. ISBN 0-905392-07-8.

External links[edit]

Media related to Oracle Workhouse at Wikimedia Commons