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  Themes Homepage > From Market Town to Railway Town > The Oracle, 1778
The Oracle, 1778
The Oracle, 1778
Brief Description: Grey wash drawing, on paper, inscribed 'The Oracle, a building at Reading, Berks. According the date on the door it was erected by Mr John Kendrick 1628 to encourage manufactures of Industry amongst the Towns people but is now very ruinous. April 1778'
Subject Date: April 1778
Creator: S.H. Grimm
Full Description: This is one of a series of drawings made by S.H.Grimm - a Swiss artist who started his career with dramatic Alpine scenes, sketched his way through France and then settled in England in 1768. His greatest patron here was Dr Richard Kaye, an able cleric who rose from country parson to Dean of Lincoln. Grimm travelled the country with his patron, making sketch after sketch in Indian ink. This is one of a series which he made of Reading and shows the entrance to the Oracle workhouse, which was opened in 1628. This new workhouse had been built using a bequest in the will of John Kendrick. Kendrick, the son of a Reading cloth-maker, made a fortune in London as a clothier, where he died in 1624. He left 7,500 pounds to build a new workhouse, where the poor could be employed in the cloth trade. His brother William turned this to his advantage by selling Reading the family house in Minster Street. Workshops were added round an internal courtyard, with this fine arched doorway into Gun Street. Unfortunately, although John Kendrick had made a fortune from the cloth trade, by the time the workshop opened the boom in the cloth manufacturing trade had collapsed. Cloth-making in the Oracle never prospered and the building became something of a white-elephant. The building was demolished in 1850. The choice of the name 'The Oracle' has never been explained, but survives in the name of the new shopping centre built on the site in the 1990s.
Collection: Reading Museum Service
Place: The Oracle, Reading, Berkshire
Dimensions: Width: 15.0cm, Height: 20.0cm
Subject: building, working life
Content Type: drawing
Location: Reading Museum Service
Local Ref: REDMG : 1981.45e.1
Unique ID: rm-rm-1981_45e_1~cd33_134-i-00-000.jpg
IPR: Reading Borough Council (Reading Museum Service)
  Themes Homepage > From Market Town to Railway Town > The Oracle, 1778
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