Sketching St Luke's Church, Reading

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I sometimes feel as if St Luke's Church (Redland's Parish Church) in Reading doesn't get as much attention as some of the other churches in the town, for example like St Laurence or Reading Minster because it's a bit out of the way, but it is definitely worth a visit to see its Victorian red and grey-bricked architecture. 

On Erleigh Road, St Luke's, from a distance, stands out with its fairy-tale pointed rooves and grand wooden doors. Its lines are clean and it's in great shape: it could have had its last stone trowelled in place yesterday. 

But this year, St Luke's celebrates 140 years as a centre for worship in Reading and I was so happy to wander down there on a winter morning with my pens and paints and capture it. 

St Luke's, Reading. © Jo Romero.

The church has undergone a few alterations over the years, but is mostly Victorian, built in 1882-1883. The beautiful central aisle opens up at the sides to a series of sturdy stone pillars with decorative arches - and at the end, a really stunning alcove with a huge stained glass window. Narrow windows along the sides of the church depict different Saints, including St Luke (naturally), St Edmund and St Oswald. 

St Luke's, Reading. © Jo Romero

St Luke's, Reading. © Jo Romero

I settled down in a quiet corner of the church on a pew and started sketching. I looked around, fascinated with the many pillars and the beautiful patterns of grey and red brick. The morning light shone a really bright blue through the stained glass windows. I mapped out the main shapes in light pencil first, then quickly marked out the lines and details in fineliner. Next I daubed on the watercolour in quick, confident quite bold strokes and waited for it to dry. Luckily some members of the congregation were holding a craft meeting at the time and very kindly offered me a cup of coffee while I sketched, which, as it was just below freezing outside, I was super grateful for. 

Drawing at St Luke's, Reading. © Jo Romero

After almost two hours, my sketch - with all the details added in grey and black fineliners and white gel pens, along with some extra pops of watercolour - was finished. I used a 310mm x 230mm (12x9") Bockingford watercolour block, which gives me 12 sheets that are glued on all sides, to prevent it warping as I splash on the watercolour

The morning was so peaceful and serene and after a couple of years of uncertainty and isolation it was lovely to be out actual urban sketching again. I mean, what a great way to start the year, in surroundings like this...

Panoramic view inside St Luke's, Reading. © Jo Romero

If you're a history lover like me, do venture out of the town centre and visit St Luke's. It's a beautiful stroll from the Royal Berkshire Hospital down the tree-lined Erleigh Road, which only takes a few minutes. You'll spot quite a few beautiful Victorian buildings on your way there, too. 

Walking from the fork in the road at the hospital mini-roundabout, it's on your left, just before you get to CafĂ© Yolk. You won't miss it. It's one of those churches you think looks kind of interesting from the outside, but when you walk through the door, you just gasp. 

And do keep a lookout for events and celebrations being held locally for their 140th anniversary later in 2022. You can keep in touch with the church and follow them at their Facebook Page

Huge thanks to the community at St Luke's for being so welcoming and kind.  

St Luke's, Reading. © Jo Romero

Enjoyed this? You might also like: Sketching Historic Buildings, A Tour and Sketch of Elizabethan House, Plymouth, Urban Sketching at Reading Abbey Ruins with Urban Sketchers Reading and Rabble Theatre and Historic Urban Sketching with Promarkers

I also take commissions, so if you have a special building you'd like me to draw or paint for you, do consider ordering one either for yourself or for a gift. 

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  1. Beautiful. I'm a bit of a way from Reading, but find it hard to pass a church without going inside and can see why this one inspired you. Wonderful artwork!


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