Queen Victoria-3

Four of Reading’s treasured monuments get a spring clean for 2023

  • Four Reading monuments will benefit from conservation work thanks to Reading’s High Street Heritage Action Zone project.
  • Work starts from today (Monday 13 February).

FOUR of Reading’s most treasured and historic monuments are set to receive a thorough spring clean, starting from today (Monday 13 February).

The Queen Victoria Jubilee Statue by Reading Town Hall, the Jubilee Cross and the Zinzan Tomb in St Mary’s churchyard, and the Simeon Monument in Market Place are all set to be cleaned and where needed, like for like conservation repairs, thanks to Reading’s High Street Heritage Action Zone scheme (HSHAZ).

The work is being carried out by an expert conservation team, Cliveden Conservation – who also worked to restore, protect and conserve Reading’s Abbey Ruins.

The work is expected to be completed in April 2023.

About the monuments:

  • The Queen Victoria Statue: by the sculptor George Blackall Simonds was erected to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. Simonds also created Maiwand Lion in the Forbury Gardens. Although the urban myth remains that Queen Victoria had a dislike for Reading, with her statue facing away from the town centre, she never actually visited. The Grade II listed statue will be cleaned and replacement boundary chains added.
    Queen Victoria Statue
  • The Jubilee Cross: this stone cross was erected in St Mary’s churchyard to commemorate restoration work at the church in 1887, the year of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. It is Grade II listed. As well as careful cleaning, the original dedication inscription in leaded gothic script has been lost to erosion and is being restored.
    Jubilee Cross
  • The Zinzan Tomb: this tomb marks the burial of landowner Dr Peter Zinzan who died in 1781, and his family. The Zinzan Tomb is an example of a chest tomb. It has significant damage from weather erosion and vandalism and will now be carefully repaired and reassembled.
    Zinzan Tomb
  • The Simeon Monument: this Grade II* listed monument was commissioned in 1804 by Edward Simeon, director of the Bank of England, with the aim of improving the lighting of Reading’s Market Place. It was designed by renowned architect Sir John Soane. The monument will receive a careful clean to enhance its appearance.
    The Simeon Monument

People passing by these areas of the town centre will notice banners surrounding the monuments while they are being cleaned. The banners will provide a history of the monuments and describe the work being carried out as a part of the HSHAZ.

Cllr Adele Barnett-Ward, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Leisure and Culture, said: “It is wonderful to see the work starting on restoring these four iconic Reading monuments. As with any external statue or monument of some age, they are at the mercy of the weather, and sadly in some cases, vandalism. Our expert conservation team from Cliveden will be working hard to give these statues and monuments a fresh lease of life. This work sits hand in hand with the work we are also carrying out on the historic shop fronts along the Oxford Road, and with the wonderful celebratory cultural work, including some beautiful murals and community exhibitions, that is also ongoing within our historic high streets.”

Cllr Micky Leng, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Planning and Assets, added: “This work is great news for Reading’s high street heritage. The concept of the ‘HSHAZ’ is to future-proof our high street areas by highlighting the heritage that is already there. We want to protect and enhance these historic areas – as well as celebrate their uniqueness. We have been incredibly fortunate to benefit from the generous funding from Historic England, enabling us to give a significant boost to much deserving streets in and around our town centre that ensures these monuments can continue to be enjoyed by current and future generations.”

Louise Dandy, Historic Places Adviser for Historic England, said: “This is an exciting time for Reading as this restoration work is moving on apace as part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone. By revitalising the historic character of our monuments and buildings we contribute to people’s pride of place and understanding of the built environment around us all. I look forward to seeing these tangible improvements in the town centre which complement the great cultural and community work that is happening around the Oxford Road.”

Reading’s High Street Heritage Action Zone seeks to improve the quality of life in our historic streets. The projects key objectives include enhancing the understanding of Reading’s heritage to reveal hidden histories and to give the community a sense of pride, as well as improving the physical condition of the high streets. https://www.reading.gov.uk/hshaz

Along the Oxford Road and St Mary’s Butts, work is expected to start in spring 2023 to restore a number of shopfronts involved with the scheme.

Outside of the HSHAZ project, specialist conservation contractors, Cliveden Conservation, who are working on these monuments, have also been commissioned to carry out work on the Forbury Garden’s Maiwand Lion in spring 2023.


Notes to editors


The media are invited to a photo opportunity on Monday 27 February at 11.30am by the The Queen Victoria Statue.

About High Streets Heritage Action Zones 

The High Streets Heritage Action Zones is a £95 million government-funded programme led by Historic England, designed to secure lasting improvements and help breathe new life into our historic high streets for the communities and businesses that use them. Historic England is working with local people and partners to unlock the rich heritage on these high streets, through repair and improvement works as well as arts and cultural programmes, making them more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors.


About HSHAZ Cultural Programme

Historic England (HE) awarded the Council with up to £700K with the Council match-funding £800K, to deliver a £1.5 million implementation programme in three of Reading’s conservation areas over 4 years. The programme began 1 April 2020 and ends 31 March 2024.

About Historic England 

We are Historic England the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation.

We care passionately about the stories these places tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.

Connect with the project via the council’s website or social media:

Webpages: https://www.reading.gov.uk/hshaz

 @hshaz_reading Instagram 

 @hshaz_reading Twitter

 @hshazreading Facebook

You can also follow @HistoricEngland