William Reade

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William Reade
Bishop of Chichester
Gateway, Amberley Castle.png
Amberley Castle
Appointed 23 September 1368
Term ended 18 August 1385
Predecessor William Lenn
Successor Thomas Rushock
Personal details
Born About 1283
Wyngerworthy, Derby, England
Died 18 August 1385 (age 102)
Denomination Catholic

William Reade (sometimes Rede; died 1385) was a medieval Bishop of Chichester.

Reade was brought up, from boyhood to maturity, by his friend and protégé Nicholas of Sandwich.[1] He was then educated at Exeter College, Oxford and elected from it to a fellowship at Merton College, Oxford where astronomy, mathematics and natural philosophy (science) flourished.[2] He collected what was probably the largest private library in 14th-century England, and was one of the University's greatest benefactors.[3] Reade wished to provide resources for Oxford scholars as there was no University library at the time, Reade donated and bequeathed some 350 volumes to the libraries at Merton, Exeter, Balliol, Oriel, Queen's, and New Colleges, Oxford.[2] Reade also provided a large sum of money to support the building of the library that is still in use today.[3]

In 1365 Reade was made provost of the college of Wingham, Kent, and archdeacon of Rochester in 1369.[2][4][5] He was nominated for Bishop of Chichester on 23 September 1368, and by provision of Pope Urban V was appointed to the see of Chichester on 2 September 1369.[2][6]

Reade's contribution to Chichester Cathedral was the systematic compilation of cartularies, gathering together all the charters and writings concerning the church.[7] His cartularies have preserved virtually the only early documentary evidence about the Cathedral.[7]

Reade converted the old Manor House at Amberley, into a castle. Stephens says he did this to provide a strong fortress for himself and his successors against troublous times.[2][8]

Reade held a deer park, in Selsey, that was plagued with poachers so much so, that the incensed bishop issued a decree excommunicating the offenders by "Bell, book, and candle", and he ordered that the ritual should be performed at all churches within the deanery.[9]

Reade died 18 August 1385,[6] and asked in his will to be buried at Selsey parish church then located at Church Norton before the high altar.[10] His wish was not acted upon as he was buried in Chichester Cathedral without monument.[2] It seems that this was not the only problem with the execution of his will as the dean and chapter, of Chichester Cathedral, petitioned the executors, thirteen years later, to account for the thirteen gilt cups, bequeathed by Reade, for the use of the cathedral.[2]


  1. ^ Powicke Medieval Books. p. 29; also Will of William Rede p. 90
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Stephens Memorials of the See at Chichester pp. 119-121
  3. ^ a b "Oxford Libraries and their Benefactors" University of Oxford
  4. ^ Page A History of Kent: Provosts of Wingham College" pp. 233-235
  5. ^ Hasted City and Liberty of the City of Rochester pp. 110-153.
  6. ^ a b Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 239
  7. ^ a b McCann "Archives" Chichester Cathedral: An Historic Survey pp. 196-197
  8. ^ Historic England. "Amberley Castle (1027499)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 17 April 2010.
  9. ^ Horsfield The History, Antiquities and Topography of the County of Sussex p. 33
  10. ^ Powicke Medieval Books p. 87


  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third revised ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.
  • Hasted, Edward. "The City and liberty of Rochester: Bishops and Archdeacons". The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 4. British History Online. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
  • Horsfield, Thomas Walker (2009) [1835]. The History, Antiquities and Topography of the County of Sussex Vol II (Facsimile ed.). Country Books. ISBN 978-1-906789-16-9.
  • Historic England. "Amberley Castle (1027499)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 17 April 2010.
  • McCann, Alison (1994). "Archives and Antiquaries". In Mary Hobbs (ed.). Chichester Cathedral:An Historic Survey. Chichester: Phillimore. ISBN 9780850339246.
  • "Oxford Libraries and their Benefactors". University of Oxford. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
  • Page, William. A History of the County of Kent: Provosts of Wingham College. British History Online. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
  • Powicke, F.M. (1931). The Medieval Books of Merton College, Bishop of Chichester. Oxford: OUP. OCLC 926120606.
  • Stephens, W.R.W (1876). Memorials of the South Saxon See and Cathedral Church of Chichester. London: Richard Bentley and Sons. OCLC 1737721.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
William Lenn
Bishop of Chichester
Succeeded by
Thomas Rushock

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