The first St Luke’s, the ‘Iron Church’, was built in 1878 on the site of what are now 27, 29 and 31 Erleigh Road. It cost £967 19s 0d to build and much of the money was provided by Henry Bilson Blandy, a churchwarden of St Giles and Mayor of Reading.
The growth in the population of the Redlands Estate meant that a more permanent church was soon needed. Work on the present building began on 3 April 1882 to a design by Mr Piers St Aubyn of London who was also an architect of St Giles church.
On 27 June 1882 Mr Blandy laid the foundation stone which can be seen on the wall fronting Donnington Road, surmounted by a brick cross 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide. The entire building is in red brick, crowned by a ‘sanctus’ bell turret which for many is St Luke’s distinguishing feature being clearly visible from most of the surrounding parish.
On 6 June 1883 the new church was consecrated by the Bishop of Oxford.
The Parish of St Bartholomew’s was separated from St Peter’s, Earley in 1877 and worship began on the present site in 1879. At that time the only building was the Nave, described in histories as “unattractive and poorly furnished”. In 1890 Canon Norris spearheaded efforts to enhance the building, forming a committee to raise money. The area was lacking in wealthy local patrons, so money was raised in small sums, given monthly, supplemented by gifts of the necessary ornaments and furnishings. £4000 was raised in all and work began on a Chancel, Chapels and Vestries. Work was finally completed in 1906.
The two churches of St Luke and St Bartholomew were formally united as a parish in November 1992.
In 2014 the church was adapted to offer a large performance space and sprung dance floor and opened for use by theatre companies for rehearsal and performance. It is now home to Read College of Performing Arts.
Regular Sunday worship continues in the chancel at 9.15am on the second Sunday of each Month