William bought a large site beside the River Kennet on what was then ‘Seven Bridges’ and now Bridge Street. John Soane and William Blackall Simonds were probably school friends as John Soane was from nearby Goring-on-Thames. Soane’s designs for a new Brewery and private residence on Bridge Street were drawn up in December 1789 when he was a young aspiring architect of just 27.
The brewery was ahead of its time, designed to produce 6,000 barrels a year.
The new family home was to be in brick, with four huge ionic pilasters with stone capitals on the main facade. Above the entrance was a stone carving by Soane’s friend Edward Foxhall. It had the first recorded family use of hops and leaves. Hop leaves were also featured in the wallpapers of the principal rooms with patterns being sent to Mr Simonds in 1792. The house was completed in 1794 and the brew house in 1796. In 1803 Soane supplied designs for offices which were built soon after. Nothing now remains – the home being the first to go a century later in 1895 to make way for additional production facilities.
This image from the family archive shows the original design scheme, more of which is available to view at the Sir John Soane Museum in London, housed in his old home at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London.