A popular theatre company in Reading has been announced as the new tenants of an iconic building in Caversham.

Caversham Court Stables are owned by Reading Borough Council and are located next to the entrance of Caversham Court Gardens.

The council has now agreed to ‘dispose’ of the building to Rabble theatre company on a 10 year lease.

Rabble, formally known as Reading Between the Lines, has gained a reputation for its historical dramas.

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It previously produced a historical trilogy of plays centrered around Henry I, based on the life of the King who was buried at Reading Abbey, Empress Matilda, focusing on the titular character’s struggle for power with King Stephen, and Henry II, the final episode, which was performed in the Abbey itself.

The transfer of the Stables was agreed at a policy committee meeting yesterday  (Monday, April 4).

Councillor Simon Robinson (Conservative, Peppard) initially expressed scepticism over the move, as Rabble’s bid to takeover the Stables was not the top offer financially, and feared what could happen if Rabble was unable to pay the rent.

Cllr Robinson said: “We certainly welcome the Stables coming back into use, they have been out of action for some time.

“However we can foresee that there is a significant financial risk for the council moving forward, given Rabble is a charity and this is for 10 years.

“I do wonder what would happen if they didn’t have significant funds to pay the rent.”

A committee report shows that of a total of nine offers, Rabble’s was seen as the best.

Council leader Jason Brock replied cllr Robinson’s argument was “quite strange.”

Cllr Brock (Labour, Southcote) said: “If Rabble were unable to pay the rent, the property would revert to the council, and then we could seek to dispose of it again.

“I really don’t see where the risk is here.”

Cllr Page (Labour, Abbey) added: “Rabble is an established local group.

“This is not something that’s sprung up during the pandemic with no form.

“They’re an organisation with a well established track local record.

“We can regard them as a firm and established part of the local cultural environment.”

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Cllr Robinson and the Conservatives performed a u-turn after being convinced that the risk to the council was minimal.

The policy to hand over the building was approved unanimously by the committee.

The Stables currently serves as a gardener’s office for the Court Gardens, which will be retained.

There is the option that Rabble could purchase the building on a 999 year basis, which was discussed by the committee in a closed session of the meeting.

There was initially a plan for Rabble to occupy Reading Central Club, but the project to redevelop it has stalled.