The Point was built in about 1867 when it was called Priory Lodge and is located on the Bath Road opposite Berkeley Avenue. It first appears in a Reading Directory in 1869 and shows on the OS map of 1877.
Across the Bath Road was St Mary’s Priory, now 41 Bath Road & built in 1872/3. Blackall Simonds [1839-1905] Moved in when it was built (probably from Grove Road Villa, Grove Rd, Caversham) and remained there till 1893 or ’94, because a local paper reported that he sold the lease to Mr A.J. Palmer in February 1893. He was the eldest son of George Simonds (1794-1852) (The ‘G’ of H&G Simonds). St Mary’s Priory was conveniently opposite his young cousin Louis and within walking distance from the Brewery on Bridge Street. He was mentioned in a local newspaper cutting of February 11th 1893. The building no longer exists and I know nothing more about its history – so please update me if you can?
Louis de Luze Simonds (1852-1916) moved in to Priory Lodge from Audleys Wood, soon after his wedding of January 1880. (The Reading Observer of May 22nd 1880 reports on the sale of furniture from the house) He renamed it ‘The Point’ after his family summer home on Long Island, New York, because of his happy memories of his times there as a child. It is a valid assumption that Louis’ move to The Point was somehow facilitated by Blackall, so as to keep his young trainee close by, although the house seems to have been leased from Mr O.C. Maurice.
The census of January 1881 shows his wife Mary living there with the newborn Frederick A Simonds (1881-1953).whilst Louis and his other uncle Henry Adolphus Simonds (1823-1910) are to be found in lodgings in Tiverton, listed as ‘Brewers’. It is safe to assume that Henry was showing his anointed successor the ropes down there!
By 1886 they had 5 children. The census report of 1891 shows his family at ‘The Point’.
In 1892 They suffered a disastrous fire that all but gutted the house, despite the prompt attendance of the Reading Volunteer Fire Brigade from Cross Street and two other brigades. This seems to have provided the opportunity to expand as in the same year they added the ‘West wing’ (on the left of the frontage) to accommodate their large family. In 1899 they moved to Audleys Wood to join another generous uncle Henry Adolphus Simonds.
The 1901 the census shows Louis & his wife Mary + daughter Louise at Audleys Wood, with his brother Fred (1858-1952) but no other children. By this time, Frederick for example was already serving in the Boer War. Louis remained at Audleys Wood till his death in 1916.
In 2020 the building is the Bath Hotel (formerly the Gatehouse Hotel) – as shown in the pictures above.
Credits for the data & research for this page to:
David Ford, who runs an historical website : Berkshire History:
Terry Dixon, who raises funds for local charities by organising ‘Terry’s Reading Walkabouts’