Until 1911 Caversham was a large village in South Oxforshire, resting on the northbank of the River Thames. Today it has largely become associated with Reading, known for being host to many private rented houses and private flats to rent, and has almost merged into part of the large town.
Whilst many residents living there will proudly cling onto its independence and uniqueness, those passing through would be forgiven for failing to decipher where Reading ends and Caversham begins, with no clear signs marking its boundaries. However Caversham now has a special carved and painted sign commissioned by Caversham Residents Association and Reading Borough Council representing its history and mounted on a on a tall oak post in the village centre, representing its history.
The sign features the River Thames, and the Caversham Bridge, which runs across the Thames between Caversham and the town centre of Reading. Besides its function as a cross-river road bridge, Caversham Bridge also provides pedestrian access to Pipers Island, and is also used for boat hire and criuise business. Pipers Island is small and entirely occupied by a pub and restaurant, and can be accessed on foot by way of a staircase descending from the centre pier of the bridge, and connecting to a short footbridge to the island.
A bridge has existed on the site since mediaeval times, as a place to cross the river between the Chiltern Hills and the Berkshire Downs, but the present structure was completed in 1926.
Reading The river theme is focused heavily on the village's specially designed sign and the theme is completed with a picture of a working boat travelling under the bridge and a basket maker creating a willow eel trap.
The village is mentioned in the Domesday Book and at the end of the 11th century, there was a shrine chapel to Mary beside the river, that was to become a major place of pilgrimage known as the Shrine of our Lady of Caversham. There is a statue of Mary there but its origin and why so many pilgrims came to it is unknown.
The ancient parish church of St. Peter was the centre of the village's faith life, which is also prominently carved in the wooden sign on its left-hand side with the equally early pilgrims' well of St Anne. The well, located at the top of Priest Hill, is no longer used but has been famous since the Medieval times for its healing powers.
On the high ground above Caversham village stands Caversham Park, a great 18th century mansion, which sadly is not open to the public but home to the BBC. Built in 1850 the magnificent building is used for the BBC's World Service which supplies and monitors news, information and comments from the media across the globe. It is also the base for BBC Radio Berkshire.
Aside from the history music lovers will know the area well due to its links with the world-famous Reading festival held at Little John's Farm on Richfield Avenue, near the Caversham Bridge, on the bank holiday weekend in August. In 2010 it drew in 82,000 onto the site.
With more than 90 top named shops to choose from including Karen Millen, Mango and French Connection, or the usual chain stores for those on a stricter budget, the Oracle has much to offer any shopaholic.
Situated in the heart of The Oracle is the 270 metre riverside promenade stretching along both sides of the River Kennet, featuring a wide range of restaurants, cafes and bars with outdoor seating for those who fancy al fresco dining, as well as a 10-screen multiplex cinema. Two bridges span the river - Cooks Bridge, a straight footbridge links The Riverside Car Park to House of Fraser, and Delphi Bridge, gives access from the cinema to Debenhams.
Text kindly provided by "The Berkshire Local"