Reading Minster, or the Minster Church of St Mary the Virgin as it is more properly known, is the oldest ecclesiastical foundation in the English town of Reading. Although eclipsed in importance by the later Reading Abbey, Reading Minster has regained its importance since the destruction of the Abbey and is now an Anglican parish church. It gives its name to the street of St Mary's Butts, on which it stands.The Minster Church of St Mary the Virgin should not be mistaken for the rather similarly named St Mary's Church, Castle Street, which is only a few yards away.HistoryAccording to unverified tradition, Saint Birinus founded a small chapel on the site of Reading Minister in the 7th century. Silver coins of the 9th century have been found in the churchyard, dating back to the period when Kings Ethelred and Alfred of Wessex were fighting the Danes at Reading, and also the era in which Reading supplanted Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester) as the local centre of importance.In 979, Queen Ælfthryth, wife of King Edgar of England, founded a royal nunnery on the site as an act of repentance for the murder of her stepson, King Edward the Martyr. All that remains of this nunnery is a rounded Saxon door in the church, most likely used by the nuns to attend church services.