Fonthill Abbey, in Wiltshire, may well remain William Beckford's most famous creation alongside his Oriental tale Vathek. Now a mere fragment, the Abbey lives on in critical and popular memory through numerous engravings, drawings, sketches and paintings, as well as through the wide array of guidebooks which were published, as a result of popular demand, in the early decades of the 19th century.

Beckford employed one of the best architects of the time, James Wyatt, to realise his architectural visions. Eager to see the monumental building finished as soon as possible, Beckford agreed to have it built in a fragile compo-cement. The tower collapsed once, in a gale - Beckford simply had it rebuilt. When it collapsed again, in 1825, Beckford had already sold the estate. The Abbey had a short life.

This page will attempt to present resources on Fonthill Abbey, ranging from mere images to entire works published in facsimile. First in line is an 1822 guidebook to the Abbey (A New Guide to Fonthill Abbey, Wiltshire, the Seat of William Beckford, Esq., London 1822, xii+60 pages) which you will find if you click here. A different guidebook, John Rutter's A Description to Fonthill Abbey (Shaftesbury 1822, xii+74 pages), is available in facsimile if you click here. John Rutter's Delineations of Fonthill Abbey(1823), the largest of all the guidebooks, is available here. Please remember that these resources are graphic-intensive, so it is advisable to have a good connection to the Internet.

In 1823 and 1824, The Country Literary Chronicle and Weekly Review (later called The Literary Chronicle and Weekly Review) published reviews of three of the major Fonthill guidebooks. The reviews are published here, in facsimile.

Revisit the Abbey together with Lord Nelson and Sir and Lady Hamilton in an online facsimile edition of an article from the Gentleman's Magazine: "Letter from a Gentleman, present at the Festivities at FONTHILL, to a Correspondent in Town" [1801, LXXI, pt 1, 206-208], continued in"LORD NELSON'S RECEPTION AT FONTHILL" [1801, LXXI, pt 1, 297-298].

An online edition of Henry Venn Lansdown's Recollections of William Beckford (1893) is found if you click here; this work is the first biographical work published by Beckfordiana. [N.B. this page is large and is best experienced on a fast connection to the internet.] This work contains, amongst other things, a vivid description of the remains of Fonthll Abbey, visited by the author.

"Anecdotes of Mr. Beckford", from the Morning Post, 1823, containing anecdotal material on Fonthill, may be found here.

William Hazlitt's damning review of the Fonthill sale (1824) is found here.

J. Goldsmith, "Fonthill Abbey", from The Natural and Artificial Wonders of the United Kingdom: With Engravings, in three volumes (1825) may be found here.

A Fonthill Compendium is found here.

"Lines written on Fonthill Abbey", by William Lisle Bowles (1762-1850), is found here.

John Jefferson's long poem, "Fonthill" (1824), is found here.

A chapter from W. P. Frith, My Autobiography and Remininiscences, London, 1887, "The Fonthill Story" - outlining a bizarre visit to Fonthill - is found here.

Jon Millington's invaluable checklist of engravings of Fonthill, originally published in the Beckford Journal, Spring 2001, is found if you click here.

Two photos of the remaining part of Fonthill Splendens can be found here.

You may also wish to visit Rictor Norton's informative webpage on Fonthill, as well as the Fonthill Garden site.