Reading is situated on two small eminences, whose gentle declivities fall into a pleasant vale, through which the branches of the Kennet flow till they unite with the Thames at the extremity of the town.
Basingstoke is a straggling, ill-built town, situated on the left in the valley. It is, nevertheless, a place of great antiquity, and appears in Domesday Book as a “market town.” It enjoyed the privilege of sending members to parliament, and exercised that right as early as the reigns of Edwards I. and II. Charles the First conferred upon it its first charter of incorporation, and it is still a municipal borough, possessing an annual revenue of nearly 2,000l. Formerly it carried on a rather considerable business in druggets, which has since fallen off, and the inhabitants now mainly depend on the corn and malt trades. It possesses several charities, one of which was established by a bequest from Sir J. Lancaster, the navigator, who was a native.
A beautiful ruin, on the brow of tie hill to the right, stands out in bold relief against the horizon, and cannot fail to attract notice. It is the dilapidated remains of the Holy Ghost Chapel, destroyed by the Puritans under Cromwell. A day passed at Basingstoke will be well bestowed in visiting the neighbourhood so rich in historical associations.
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The seat of her majesty the Queen, and of her ancestors from the period of the Conquest. Eton College also is within a short distance.
Remains of the church, chapter-house, refectory, &c., exist, all picturesquely wound with ivy or overshadowed with ash and other trees.