Fonthill Abbey

“There was still one last, great tribute to be paid to his architectural daring and inspiration. Fonthill Abbey had fallen ignominiously, but its even wilder, nobler and unlikely child would rise beside the Thames, though there is no record that Beckford even registered this final honor. It was the British Nation, not William Beckford, that had caught the Gothic infection. Without the legend of that astonishing structure high on a windy Wiltshire hillside and the images of it (…) it is unlikely that an educated public committee of 1836 would have ever have risked Charles Barry’s proposals for a new Palace of Westminster. But the decision to go Gothic was taken, and, in a morally quite inappropriate and unintentional tribute to the memory of the profoundly undemocratic Beckford, the home of the nation’s democratic institutions would rise from 1840 to 1860, with Fonthill’s axis and a skyline of “roofs and towers, detached chapels and isolated spires”, more memorably fantastic than anything the youthful Beckford dreamed of that day he stood marveling at Batalha.”

Timothy Mowl, ‘William Beckford: A biographical perspective’. In William Beckford 1760-1844: An Eye for the Magnificent, Yale University Press, 2002.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s