Fonthill Abbey


Views such as these are all we’ve ever have of Fonthill Abbey, a monstrous pile that would have been Britain’s most grandiose folly had it not collapsed in 1825. William Beckford (1760–1844) was the man responsible, among other things a very wealthy and bisexual writer whose Vathek (1786) is one of the better Gothic novels. The Gothic fad fuelled many such constructions, Horace Walpole having inaugurated the trend decades earlier at Strawberry Hill House. Fonthill always fascinates for that outrageously excessive octagonal tower which must have been visible for miles across Wiltshire. Plans and other views show that excess was also a factor elsewhere, especially in the vast hall. The pictures here are from Wikimedia Commons. There’s a book at the Internet Archive A Description of Fonthill Abbey, Wiltshire (1812) by James Storer, a contemporary account describing the building in detail, and also Delineations of Fonthill Abbey (1823) by John Rutter.





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Previously on { feuilleton }
Gothic details
Schloss Falkenstein
Pite’s West End folly