WALKING through a bustling Broad Street, you would have no idea that it once played host to a deadly important battle which also took part in The Butts and the Market Place.

During the Glorious Revolution of 1688, mercenaries hired by King James II were moved to Reading to stop future William III getting to London.

A major rumour at the time stated that they were planning to round-up the townsfolk in Reading Minster and burn them alive.

But they were stopped by William of Orange's forces in this ‘Battle of Broad Street’, the only major fighting in England. Several were killed with many buried at the graveyard of St Giles Church in Church Street.

This is just one of Reading’s dark stories brought to life by Tilehurst-born history enthusiast Terry Dixon, 65, as part of historical walking tours of the town.

The retired engineer’s tours raised more than £6,000 for local causes last year - including Homestart Reading and Tilehurst for Ukraine. And it was enough to see Terry given a special award for his fundraising efforts at the Chronicle’s monthly networking event the First Friday Club, see page 23, last week.

The Chronicle’s editorial team booked onto one of Terry's tours on Monday, April 8, where over a two-and-a-half-hour session myths were dispelled and fascinating forgotten histories were unearthed.

Despite some of the team being Berkshire born-and-raised, there was much to learn beyond the three bs Reading is known for (beer, bulbs and biscuits).

Starting off outside the Three Guineas at the railway station, Terry pointed out the statue of Edward VII.

“There has long been a myth that the Royal family hate Reading,” Terry explained. But thankfully, he says this is not true. The origin of this mistruth was down to the placement of two key statues - Edward VII and his mother Queen Victoria, outside the town hall. Both are facing away from the town, in what people felt was their disdain for Reading. However Terry assures, they face the railway line in a nod to the town’s great industrial links.

Reading has been a place of prominence long before the invention of the railways. In the 12th Century, the town was one of the most important places in Britain. The foundation of Reading Abbey in 1121 led to Reading becoming a place of pilgrimage. By 1525, Reading was the largest town in Berkshire and the 10th largest town in England.

“Reading could have clicked its fingers and been made a city back when its abbey was at its height,” Terry said. “But the people of the town didn’t want it at the time.”

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

The abbey stands in ruins today, long after being destroyed by Henry VIII as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. But it is free to visit and plays hosts to gigs, entertainment events and concerts in the summer months.

Forbury Gardens has its own unique history and was once the perfect spot for Victorian men and women to begin courting. Terry recounted how chaperoned women would drop a handkerchief to grab the attention of a passing gent around the many paths of the popular park. The park was designed to allow for many walkers to cover a good distance in a confined space - in total all the paths add up to over a mile.

And centre stage is George Blackall Simonds’ 1886 sculpture of the Maiwand Lion, the only monument for the 2nd Anglo-Afghan War in the UK. George was also director of H & G Simonds Brewery and was the man behind many other statues in Reading as well as the Falconer in Central Park, New York.

The Chronicle’s office on Bridge Street has its own fascinating history - a one-time dolls hospital to repair broken toys and a bear-baiting site. And just metres up the road in St Mary Butts played scene to a deadly battle during the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

Reporter Nicole McBride said: “I loved getting to know the history of the town that I now call my home and the stories about people who once lived here. There are so many well-known people that were born in Reading. I especially loved hearing about all the influential women that made Reading what it is today.”

While Daisy Waites added: “Terry was a engaging tour guide who clearly loves Reading - both past and present.

“He set myths right and spoke about the Royal history of the area. I especially liked learning about Reading Abbey, a place I had never visited despite being tucked away in Forbury Gardens.”

Terry’s Tours show there is much more about Reading than the famous three bs - beer, bulbs and biscuits.

To find out more, visit https://readingwalkingtours.co.uk/.