kids encyclopedia robot

Caversham, Berkshire facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Caversham Bridge.jpg
Caversham Bridge
Area 6.64 km2 (2.56 sq mi)
Population 23,885 (2011 census)
• Density 3,597/km2 (9,320/sq mi)
OS grid reference SU7174
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Reading
Postcode district RG4
Dialling code 0118
Police Thames Valley
Fire Royal Berkshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament
  • Reading East
List of places
BerkshireCoordinates: 51°28′01″N 0°58′23″W / 51.467°N 0.973°W / 51.467; -0.973

Caversham is a suburb in the Borough of Reading, a unitary authority, in the royal, non-administrative county of Berkshire, England. Caversham occupies much of the land of a geographically large village of the same name founded in the Middle Ages. It lies on the north bank of the River Thames, opposite the rest of Reading. Caversham Bridge, Reading Bridge and Caversham Lock (pedestrians only) provide crossing points, with Sonning Bridge also available a few miles east of Caversham.

Caversham has at Caversham Court foundations of a medieval house, a herb garden and tree-lined park open to the public at no charge, Caversham Lakes and marking its south and south-east border the Thames Path National Trail.

Caversham extends from the River Thames flood plain to just south of the Chilterns. Its named neighbourhoods are arbitrary divisions, as green space is scattered throughout and forms an outlying buffer zone. These are Emmer Green (on postal district and on historic boundaries), Lower Caversham or Caversham (town/proper), Caversham Heights and Caversham Park Village (which is closer to the centre of Emmer Green than the main amenities or high street of Caversham). With the exception of the centre of Caversham and Emmer Green, which were traditional villages, most of the development occurred during the 20th century.

At the 2011 census the proportion of homes that were rented as opposed to owned was close to 50% of the average for the borough. The area had 15.3% of Reading's population and 16.4% of the borough's area. In keeping with a suburb, in 2005 ONS land use statistics published with the census, Caversham had 4.3% of the non-domestic buildings. Almost wholly low rise where developed, its homes occupied 20.6% of the footprint of all homes in the borough.


View of Caversham through the inner gateway of Reading Abbey, 1791
View of Caversham through the inner gateway of Reading Abbey in 1791
Bridge Street, Caversham, c. 1905
Bridge Street, looking north from Caversham Bridge c. 1905 by Henry Taunt

The name of Caversham in 1066 was Caveham. The first written description of Caversham as Cavesham appeared in the Domesday Book within the hundred of Binfield. This entry indicates that a sizeable community had developed with a considerable amount of land under cultivation.

Some time before 1106 a Shrine of Our Lady was established in Caversham. Its precise location is unknown, but it may have been near the present St Peter's Church. It became a popular place of pilgrimage, along with the chapel of St. Anne on the bridge and her well, whose waters were believed to have healing properties. By the 15th century the statue was plated in silver; Catherine of Aragon is recorded as visiting on 17 July 1532. The shrine was destroyed on 14 September 1538 under the orders of Henry VIII. Only the well survives, now dry and surrounded by a protective wall, topped with a domed iron grill. A modern shrine to Our Lady has been re-established at the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady and St. Anne.

In the Middle Ages Caversham Manor was one of the demesnes of William Marshal (1146 or 47 – 1219), Earl of Pembroke and regent during King Henry III's minority. It was the place of his death.

The medieval community was clustered on the north side of Caversham Bridge east of St. Peter's Church, which was built in the 12th century. The third Earl of Buckingham donated the land for the church and neighbouring rectory, together with a considerable amount of land around it, to the Augustinian Abbey of Notley near Long Crendon in Buckinghamshire. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, these lands were given to Christ Church, Oxford. The rectory stood in what is now Caversham Court park and herb garden where there are remains with information panels and flat foundation stones as well as a ha ha wall below giving a view over the River Thames and much of Reading and Tilehurst.

In the Civil War there was fierce fighting around Caversham Bridge for a short time in April 1643. Reading had been held by Royalists and was besieged by a Parliamentary force under the Earl of Essex. Royalists marched south from Oxford to try to relieve the town's defenders but were heavily defeated, and the town fell to the Parliamentarians a few days later.

The fortified manor house was replaced by Caversham House and Park in the 16th century. Several houses have stood on the site, notably the home of William Cadogan, 1st Earl Cadogan. The present Caversham Park House, built in 1850, is occupied by BBC Monitoring, which is a section of the BBC World Service that analyses news, information and comment gathered from mass media around the world. It is also the premises of the BBC Written Archives Centre and BBC Radio Berkshire. The BBC announced in July 2016 that it planned to leave the site and transfer its operations elsewhere.

Caversham was an urban district and part of Oxfordshire until 9 November 1911, when it was transferred to Berkshire and became part of the county borough of Reading.


St. Peter's church, Caversham - - 2292646
St Peter's Church parish church

There are 13 churches in the Caversham area, including five along the main road that runs through Caversham's centre. St Peter's Church is the parish church of central Caversham, with St. John's, St Andrew's and St. Barnabas making up the other Anglican Churches. Our Lady and St. Anne's is the Catholic church and the Methodists have two churches, one on the junction of Gosbrook Road and Ardler Road and one in Caversham Heights. The Baptists are represented in the centre of Caversham at Caversham Baptist Church, and also have premises in Caversham Heights. Grace Church Caversham meets at Caversham Hill Chapel, and is part of Newfrontiers, and The New Testament Church of God (Pentecostal) meets in Caversham's old cinema. Caversham Park Village Church meets in Caversham Park Primary School each Sunday and is an ecumenical project made up of Anglicans, Baptists and Methodists. Finally, Caversham Evangelical Church meets at the Youth and Community Centre in Emmer Green.


The shopping area and immediate residential surrounds that form Central Caversham are surrounded by more recent developments that form bolt-on additions to the suburb: Caversham Heights on the higher ground to the west, Lower Caversham to the south east, and Caversham Park Village to the north east on what was the parkland of Caversham Park. Emmer Green, to the north, is an older village but is generally considered part of Caversham.

Elevations of homes vary from 37m above mean sea level to 92m at the top of Caversham Park, three metres short of the highest point in the east of the area. The bank of the river has the Thames Path National Trail except to the west of Caversham, where it reverses banks at Reading Bridge. Between Mapledurham on the Thames and Caversham Heights, adjoining their respective golf courses is a western narrow outcrop of the northern foothills that reaches 95m AOD. The low Chiltern Hills on the north bank of the River Thames are therefore higher than the land on the opposite bank, providing wide views to the south.


2011 Census Key Statistics
Output area Population Homes % Owned outright % Owned with a loan % Socially rented % Privately rented km² km² Greenspace km² gardens km² road domestic buildings non-domestic buildings
Caversham 23885 8996 36.9% 43.9% 9.1% 15.7% 6.64 1.44 3.17 0.78 0.68 0.09
Caversham including Emmer Green 31734 12284 37.7% 42.9% 8.2% 13.9% 9.5 2.54 4.17 1.07 0.96 0.12
Borough of Reading 155698 62869 22.6% 32.2% 16.3% 26.1% 40.4 13.2 11.9 4.9 3.3 2.1

Caversham including Emmer Green (the north bank) had: 22.1% of its homes being socially or privately rented in 2011, whereas the borough had 42.4%. This broad area had 20.4% of Reading's population and 23.5% of the borough, with the north bank's homes occupying 29.1% of the footprint of the whole borough's homes. It had 5.7% of the borough's non-domestic buildings footprint.

The same figures (where Emmer Green is excluded from analysis) are that Caversham more narrowly defined, as is becoming more common, saw 24.8% of its homes rented against the borough's 42.4%, the same area had 15.3% of Reading's population and 16.4% of the borough's area with its homes occupying 20.6% of the footprint of the whole borough's homes. It had 4.3% of the borough's non-domestic buildings footprint.

kids search engine
Caversham, Berkshire Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.