cover of book

Fonthill Recovered: A Cultural History
by Caroline Dakers
University College London, 2018
Paper: 978-1-78735-047-2 | Cloth: 978-1-78735-046-5
Library of Congress Classification DA690.F6F66 2018
Dewey Decimal Classification 942.319

Fonthill, Wiltshire, is typically associated with the writer and collector William Beckford, who built his Gothic fantasy house, Fonthill Abbey, there at the end of the eighteenth century. The collapse of the Abbey’s tower in 1825 transformed the name Fonthill into a symbol for overarching ambition and folly. But Fonthill is much more than the story of one man’s excesses, and the Abbey was only one of several important houses to be built there, all eventually consumed by fire or deliberately demolished—and all strangely forgotten by contemporary history

Fonthill Recovered draws on new research to explore the rich cultural history of this place where little remains today—a tower, a stable block, the ruins of what was once a kitchen, and an indentation in a field. The first half of the book traces the occupation of Fonthill from the Bronze Age to the twenty-first century. Some of the owners surpassed Beckford in terms of their wealth and political power—and even, in one case, their sexual proclivities. They include Charles I’s Chancellor of the Exchequer and the richest British commoner of the nineteenth century. The second half of the book consists of essays on specific topics, examining such crucial areas as the complex history of the designed landscape, the sources of the Beckfords’ wealth and their extensive art collection, and the recent appearance of the Abbey in a video game.
Nearby on shelf for History of Great Britain / England / Local history and description: