My thanks once again to Sidney Blackmore for sending me this new publication from The Beckford Society. Conversations with Beckford reprints in facsimile Cyrus Redding’s memoirs of William Beckford, a series of essays which were published in 1844 after Beckford’s death.
Of particular interest to this folly enthusiast is a chapter entitled The Tower of the Caliph, in which Redding relates a visit to the newly-constructed Lansdown Tower which stands on Lansdown Hill outside the city of Bath. Beckford’s Tower, as it’s known today, is only half the height of the unsound structure which the fabulously wealthy Beckford built at Fonthill Abbey but it has at least survived, unlike the constructions on his old estate. The Tower and its grounds have had a chequered history since 1844 so Redding’s piece is valuable for the impression it gives of the place shortly after it was built. (The “Caliph” of the title refers to Beckford’s celebrated Gothic novel, Vathek, an Arabian Tale.) The Tower today is a museum housing some of Beckford’s art collection and furniture. Flickr has a great selection of views of the place showing how impressive the gold belvedere can be even on gloomy winter days.