The Beckfords at Fonthill

The Shaftesbury & District Historical Society’s season of winter lectures begins in the Town Hall at 7.30p.m. on Tuesday 04 October with the Teulon Porter Memorial Lecture given by Caroline Dakers, Professor of Cultural History at London’s University of the Arts. Professor Dakers has published a number of works on nineteenth and early twentieth century British figures and movements in the arts, including the recent Forever England: The Countryside at War 1914-18. Her subject on 04 October will be The Beckfords at Fonthill.

Between 1796 and 1813 the most celebrated of the Beckfords, the eccentric William, employed the architect James Wyatt and 500 labourers to build a huge Gothic Revival mansion. The 90 metre tall tower of Fonthill Abbey collapsed three times, the last time in 1825 after Beckford’s straitened finances had forced him to sell. Now only a gatehouse and a small tower from the north wing remain.

This lecture on an intriguing aspect of local history is free to S & DHS members while non-members may pay £5 at the door.