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 that was built for Blackall Simonds [1839-1905] in 1872/3 and was probably on the site of what is now 41 Bath Road. Blackall moved from Grove Road Villa, Grove Rd, Caversham and remained there till 1893, because a local paper reported that he sold the lease to Mr A.J. Palmer in February 1893. Blackall 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 & Brewery trainee Louis and within walking distance from the Brewery on Bridge Street. The building no longer exists and we know little about its history – when was it demolished??
Louis de Luze Simonds (1852-1916) moved in to Priory Lodge from Audleys Wood, soon after his wedding in 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 was 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 volunteer brigades, The County & Maiden Erleh. The local population rallied round as the fire spread, to recover what furniture and valuables they could and with some success. You can read the letter HERE: In an effort to decipher the names mentioned I produced this ‘CRIB-SHEET’: With the names and family relationships.
In a letter to Louis’ parents in New York in1892, Mary Simonds, née Turnbull (1857-1930) explained the horrors of the time it caught fire on a Sunday shortly before Easter, when the house was empty save for a servant & Louis & Mary were walking home nearby.
They went to stay with Henry Adolphus Simonds (1823-1910) in Red Rice whilst the house was restored. The fire provided the opportunity to expand, so in the same year they added the ‘West wing’ (on the left of the frontage) to accommodate their growing family. In 1899 they moved to Audleys Wood to join their generous uncle Henry Adolphus Simonds.
In August 1900 they moved to Audleys Wood that had just been purchased by Henry Adolphus. 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 was The Bath Hotel (formerly the Gatehouse Hotel) – as shown in the pictures above.
Credits for much of 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’