PHILIPPA Langley is Britain's foremost exhumer of Kings.

Chairwoman of the Scottish branch of the Richard III society, in 2012 Mrs Langley's intuition that she stood atop the 15th century monarch in a Leicester car park and detailed research led to one of the century's greatest historical jackpots.

Now the Edinburgh resident, who worked as a screen writer before the financial collapse buried three unfinished scripts, is attempting to put Reading on the royal remains map of Britain.

“In 2012 I led the search for Richard III in a council car park in Leicester,” said Mrs Langley.

“Later on when I was doing a lecture tour in the Thames Valley, I was approached by so many of the people of Reading.

“They all said 'we have a great story to tell. We have an amazing history, can you help us tell it?'”

Although she is firm that the lottery and Historic England funded excavation is called the Hidden Abbey and not “Finding Henry Project” for a reason, Mrs Langley concedes that locating the remains of the 12th century monarch would be an undoubted triumph.

“There's good evidence to suggest that Henry is still buried in Reading.

“It would be amazing if we found him.”

Two of Mrs Langley's key allies in the Abbey project have been John and Lindsay Mullaney, Reading based historians who used to own Caversham Books.

“Henry I was one of the most important kings in English history,” explained Mrs Mullaney on a tour around the Abbey ruins on Thursday last week.

“He invented the Civil Service for example. When he was in France he appointed deputies to look after the UK in his absence, which turned into the institution that we now know.”

Walking around the few remaining walls of a building that once stood at 86m, as high as Reading's tallest building The Blade, the Abbey's historical significance is difficult to overlook.

Founded in 1121, Henry intended the Abbey to become a mausoleum for future kings and queens, a wish that would have given the building significance on par with Westminster Abbey.

Unfortunately for Reading's status, Henry died and, with Henry VIII's divorce and the subsequent destruction of all things Catholic, so to did the lost King's vision of the town as a monarch's grave yard.

Now, Reading's historians must content themselves with the potential of one dead royal and a £1.8m project that should see the Abbey open to the public in 2018.

In the words of former mayor Councillor Sarah Hacker, who has backed Hidden Abbey from its conception, said: “This project has the potential to bring huge cultural, historical and economic benefits to the Abbey Quarter and the town as a whole.”