William Thomas Beckford

Country house

Fonthill / Fonthill Abbey

Fonthill (Wiltshire)

Built 1st Jan 1807


In 1744-45 William Beckford purchased Fonthill for £32,000 from Francis, 2nd Baron Cottington. Following a fire in 1755 Beckford built a new and substantial Palladian mansion on the site (which came to be known as 'Splendens'). Subsequently his son, William Thomas Beckford, had built Fonthill Abbey, designed by James Wyatt and built c. 1798-1807. Heavily indebted, Beckford put Fonthill up for sale in 1822. The Abbey, much of its contents and the whole estate were sold to John Farquhar for £300,000. The tower collapsed in 1825.
For a detailed account of the Beckfords and Fonthill see Amy Frost, 'The Beckford era' in Fonthill Recovered. A Cultural History, ed. Caroline Dakers (London, UCL Press, 2081), ch. 4.


The remains of the Fonthill estate are now in private hands.

Further Information

James Wyatt