Bellevue House, Earley

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madgermusso

Bellevue House, Earley

Post by madgermusso »

Hi ladies and gents, new to this forum so hello from sunny Gloucester.

This is a bit of a long shot, but I'll try not to bore you with my preamble (set your alarm for 5 minutes, in case you drop off :zzzing: ). Back in 1969 when I was four years old, we've moved to Reading and my parents rented part of a big house - number 3 Belle Avenue, the other part of the house was a nursery school (St Nicholas school I think, which I attended). We only stayed a year or so before moving to a 3 bed semi in St Peters Road, which my parents bought.

I have fond memories of Belle Avenue, part of a large mansion house with many rooms, corridors, cellars and even a bell tower. Unfortunately we have no photos of the house, apart from a close up of my brother and I dressed up as Laurel and Hardy in the back garden. These days, I have an interest in architecture and would love to be able to show my wife and kids a picture.

I believe it was built around 1862 and the grounds ran from Holmes Road at the back to Green Road at the front, with White Knights Road to the left and Wokingham Road on the right. It changed hands a few times up to the 1911 census. When the land started being built on presumably the first thing added was a road across the gardens, this being Belle Avenue, having taken its name from the house. Sadly, it was demolished in the 70’s and replaced by four detached houses, two facing Belle Avenue and two on Earley Hill Road.

The incredible thing is that in 1970 my parents turned down the opportunity to buy the whole building for around £5,000 – the good old days ehh?

I’ve searched the internet and visited Reading Central Library last Monday, although I wasn’t there as long as I would have liked, but have been unable to find any pictures of what must have been a substantial property of its day.

In case anybody recognises any names as possible relatives, chronologically from the start some of the residents were a Mrs Nixon, Captain Richard Pretyman Apthorp, Albert Edward Newton and the owners when we were there were two sisters by the name of Kitchen (if memory serves me right)

If anybody has any pictures of the house, please get in contact as I would be extremely grateful. :help3:

Gerald Newport
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piwacket
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Re: Bellevue House, Earley

Post by piwacket »

Hello Gerald and welcome :)

It's an interesting story, but I can't immediately offer you any pictures. I have friends who lived in Belle Avenue, about 30 years ago but can't remember the No. (they no longer live in Reading). I think its unlikely they will have any photos but if all else fails I will ask them.
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madgermusso

Re: Bellevue House, Earley

Post by madgermusso »

piwacket wrote:Hello Gerald and welcome :)

It's an interesting story, but I can't immediately offer you any pictures. I have friends who lived in Belle Avenue, about 30 years ago but can't remember the No. (they no longer live in Reading). I think its unlikely they will have any photos but if all else fails I will ask them.
Thanks for the quick response, I know I'm clutching at straws! I'm due to be made redundant soon, so I'll take the opportunity to visit the central library and records office again and spend a bit more time. I think it's going to be a case of flicking through every local history book on the off chance there's somebodies granny sat on a horse and buggy in front of her house and Bellevue may be a smudge in the background!
dave m
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Re: Bellevue House, Earley

Post by dave m »

I grew up in Earley Hill Road and our house was in the probable kitchen gardens of Belle House. (built 1928)

Our garage was the old vinery. Or it was after a spot of DIY.
The back wall had a door in it that would of allowed access to the house at the back in Belle Avenue, if it wasn't for the garage that had been built up against it.

I'm pretty sure it was just Belle House and I remember after it was all abandoned getting in and having a good poke about, including on the roof.
There was a date on the gutter pipes of somewhere between 67 and 76

If you find a photo of the original three tuns, when it faced East along Church Road, there's a tiny bit of Belle House visible.

There were Edwardian? houses built adjoining the original house in Earley Hill rd so I don't think that the "Estate" of Belle House lasted very long in a large state
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Re: Bellevue House, Earley

Post by dave m »

http://readingimages.epixtech.co.uk/loc/1325240.pdf

thinking about it, although we did call it Belle House, maybe there was "Bellvue" on the gateposts. I have a feeling they were still there in the 80's/90's
dave m
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Re: Bellevue House, Earley

Post by dave m »

http://readingimages.epixtech.co.uk/loc/1224063.PDF

these look like the houses between Talford and Green Road, on the wokingham road?

1905
Last edited by dave m on 27 Jun 2013 14:25, edited 1 time in total.
dave m
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Re: Bellevue House, Earley

Post by dave m »

http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/download/EPW037492

this photo is too small a scale but should show the house
Attachments
belle.jpg
madgermusso

Re: Bellevue House, Earley

Post by madgermusso »

Thanks Dave, you've found the only pics I could find on line as well. The architects sketches as you say are on Wokingham road and if you look on the current Google street view that row is exactly as it stands today (minus the horses etc!)

When was it abandoned?

My brother disagrees as he thinks they were stone, but I think the gate posts that still stand and serve the current houses are the originals. I remember it having a horse shoe drive way and two garages to the right? I always remember there was a ouija board on a shelf in the cellar and our mother forbidding us from touching it. I have 3 sisters and one brother, I was the youngest.
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Re: Bellevue House, Earley

Post by dave m »

I'd say that it was empty from roughly 70-75?

it's hard to remember exactly when the new houses were built - maybe 76.

I'm pretty sure the drive had two gates, as you say and the new houses in Belle would simply have taken them over. I imagine that they were a sort of engineering brick with a stone plaque for the name. I must take a look and see if they;re still there.

I don't really remember a garage, but there would have been some sort of coach house and associated stables somewhere.
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OLDMAN
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Re: Bellevue House, Earley

Post by OLDMAN »

Hi Gerald and welcome to the forum

As a local, local (born, bred and still living in the area) I am interested in all the history around here and can remember Bellevue Lodge from the mid 60’s on until it was demolished as had many school friends in the area

Must admit not sure of them having all that land – I understood it was the bit between Wokingham Rd and Whiteknights Rd off / facing Earley Hill Rd – the land between that and Green Rd was fields / open – and it was brickworks further down

Not seen anything to say otherwise - Bell Ave was put through at the back of the premises / land as can be seen like on old maps (I have attached some bits)
Bellevue_Page_1.jpg
Bellevue_Page_2.jpg
As you can the area was developed over a few years until the place went - never saw it go just went up that way one day and some house had appeared!

Not sure of any pictures – I have seen some of the area but not the Lodge – you could try history pin - http://www.readingmuseum.org.uk/collect ... istorypin/
Oldman........

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Re: Bellevue House, Earley

Post by dave m »

if you look at the 1913/38 images, my old house is not there in 13, but is there by 38, in the walled garden.

The outbuildings code appears to be black/filled in and the houses that were possibly Edwardian are in the 1913 image, but a greenhouse cum palm house is black. What is next to it (on the left as you look at the map) is what we were always told had been the vinery of Belle house and it was all glass from hip height, with a sloping roof, holes in the walls for the vines to grow outside, being trained in and a tiled perimeter path inside. There was an adjoined boiler room

Belle House/Belvue was pretty run down in the 60's especially after being a nursery school, but I remember a sweeping (cast iron?) staircase with wooden handrail.

and the smell of damp
cmcardle75
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Re: Bellevue House, Earley

Post by cmcardle75 »

dave m wrote:http://readingimages.epixtech.co.uk/loc/1325240.pdf

thinking about it, although we did call it Belle House, maybe there was "Bellvue" on the gateposts. I have a feeling they were still there in the 80's/90's
Somewhere I've got the original 1909 documents from when I bought a house in Talfourd Avenue. It included the conveyancing of a parcel of land with a condition that properties are built to a certain specification. It refers to the area as the "Bellevue Estate".
madgermusso

Re: Bellevue House, Earley

Post by madgermusso »

Thanks all for your responses and info. :-)

Interesting how the house split around the turn of the 20th century, presumably when the estate was broken up. From the research I’ve done so far (although I do dip in and out and don’t keep a chronological file – D’oh) in 1911 the residents in what turned into number 3, were Albert Newton who was a Departmental Manager, his wife, three children and three servants. They renamed their half Navenby House (I’m assuming on his wifes request as she came from Navenby in Lincolnshire :cheers3: )

On the 1901 census, Mr Newton was recorded as a Commercial Traveller and lived with his family at 170 London Road which is a small terrace so in the intermediate years he did very well for himself. Although he did work for an oil company – some things never change!

On the 1891 census, there was Bellevue Lodge and Bellevue Stables which presumably served the main house, which at that time had five servants. I’m only surmising but this would have meant that visitors in carriages would have entered via the lodge and the drive would have swept round to the front of the house for them to be received at the front door.

'Oldman' – ref the land, I’m assuming it originally went as far as Green Lane because the houses that were eventually built further down on Wokingham Road (link included in Daves previous response) which are shown as an architect’s sketch are referred to as being on the Bellevue Estate. Link below to a site about how places got their names, but the author may only be guessing as well.

http://sbcox.history-redlands.tripod.co ... names.html

Cheers All :-)
Les

Re: Bellevue House, Earley

Post by Les »

That is very interesting madgermusso and is an alternative and very much more likely than the version that was given to me by the carpenter with whom I started work.
He was engaged on building most of that estate and was employed by Thomas Cook, a builder of some repute in the reading area. Jo, the carpenter maintained that most of the roads were named after Thomas Cook's children but critical examination of that theory doesn't quite add up!
There is one chap left alive who might be able to substantiate that and I will ask him, but he might not remember now because he is of advanced years.
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Re: Bellevue House, Earley

Post by OLDMAN »

I can imagine that land being owned by one place as that was the norm back then – it just looks odd in the maps as its just open land with trees across – other estates had features that marked them out

Plus it doesn’t name that piece of land as part of Bellevue other estatess are shown on maps

Also most of the area was farm land / orchard (and the brick yard) etc back then

Interesting mistake with the place names though – it says: ‘’Belle Avenue: Is named after Bellevue House, a large mansion like establishment which once stood in its own grounds stretching from Green Road to Holmes Road, and bounded by Wokingham Road and Upper Redlands Road’’

Upper Redlands Rd – doesn’t start until about half mile from Green Rd – it’s Whiteknights Rd along there and was so even back then
Also from older maps I’ve seen, in the 1870’s UPR was just a track that ran from the Whiteknights Rd / Eastern Ave junction along the back of Foxhill Manor then joined up with the road further along so did not come that far as such
Which makes me wonder about the accuracy of the names statement / piece of land?
Oldman........

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of the people I had to kill because they annoyed me........................

I hug everybody –
It’s not affection, I’m just measuring up how big a hole I need to dig for the body!
dave m
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Re: Bellevue House, Earley

Post by dave m »

I noticed the UPR "mistake" as well.

I have a book somewhere that has the history of Whiteknights in it, and the gradual breakup of the Blandford Estate into several smaller ones and so changed from aristocracy to nouveau riche business/trade people, which is why the Uni now has places like Blandford Lodge, Foxhill, 'old" Whiteknights House etc.

Strangely, Bellevue House doesn't seem to have lasted more than 40 years before being broken up and the land sold off

I drove past it today to take a look at the gateposts and they are red brick but could have been rebuilt as they are old in fabric but look as if some work's been done on them.
No name seen on a slow drive by.

The gates are original in that they are the steel/iron type gates that used to be common in Whiteknights and the ones that I remember

Most "Cooks" built houses were later than the Bellvue break up. Mrs Cook was an old lady but lived in the mansion that still stands, originally accessed via Church Rd but now from Heath Rd. The land was sold off as a small estate but the house was empty and Mrs Cook would go back every day to have tea in the house before returning to some sort of nursing home. Quite why she did that when she could probably have employed care staff and stayed in the house I don't know.
Eventually she died and the house was occupied by an opera siinger (I think?)

RThe Cooks built a lot of old Earley inc most of the Wilderness Rd houses and on the corner of Belle Ave/Whitknights rd is "The Smithy".
I always assumed that it was the original building/house but it used to be a different building that included the land that was later occupied by the house over the back wall from my house. So the plot was twice the size or bigger.

Apparently this is where Mr Cook had his metal window frames made as they were a new idea in construction and I was under the impression that this is where Ideal Casements was born - later to move over to a site off the London Rd
pwpriory
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Re: Bellevue House, Earley

Post by pwpriory »

Quite a long time since the OP, but this has come up on the Facebook site "Memories of Earley and Whiteknights"

It arose from someone noticing the tower on the building behind the old Three Tuns and the speculation that it might have belonged to Bellevue House.
Attachments
Holmes,Green,Belle etc Roads 1932.jpg
3 Tuns 3 + spire.jpg
Belle Vue labelled 1939.jpg
Belle Vue 1939.jpg
Bellevue & area-E whiteknights, 3T etc 1899.jpg
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Re: Bellevue House, Earley

Post by piwacket »

.... and hence Belle Vue Avenue?
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dave m
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Re: Bellevue House, Earley

Post by dave m »

Belle avenue actually
When I lived a couple of doors down, it was called belle house
Francis
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Re: Bellevue House, Earley

Post by Francis »

Four and a half years after the last post in this series, I think I have useful information to contribute to the discussion, and to Madgermusso's original request. I have been researching the history of Bellevue House (Earley) since 2019 when I discovered two sets of auction particulars for the House in Reading Library, dating from 1861 and 1888.

I've been using Ancestry.co.uk, the British Newspaper Archive, Reading Library, the Berkshire Records Office and other sources to produce a chronological record of the Bellevue Estate from the 1700s (although the Estate didn't come into existence until the 1840s) up to 1979 (when the last bit of land on which the main part of the House once stood was sold and a new house was built on it). The chronology includes some photographs - albeit only a couple that show the House. Although the Estate included all the land from Green Road up to the stub portion of Whiteknights Road at the Three Turns crossroads, my focus has been mainly on the House itself, and the people who lived there.

The chronology is available via this link: Bellevue House Chronology

I hope this is of help to you, and also that by sharing it you may be able fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge (generally shown in red italics in the Chronology).

Francis
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Re: Bellevue House, Earley

Post by Bam »

Francis, I have sent you a private message. Shout if you have not received it please.
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