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Description: Remains of Old Fonthill Abbey
Date Listed: 6 January 1966
English Heritage Building ID: 320875
OS Grid Reference: ST9182230997
OS Grid Coordinates: 391822, 130997
Latitude/Longitude: 51.0782, -2.1181
FONTHILL GIFFORD FONTHILL ABBEY WOOD
ST 93 SW (north side)
1/86 Remains of Old Fonthill Abbey
Remains of Gothic country house fantasy. 1796-c1818 by James Wyatt
for William Beckford, altered in 1840s. Limestone ashlar, Welsh
slate roof. All that remains of the vast cruciform building is a
fragment of the north wing; the tower fell 1825 and the three
other wings were demolished c1845 during building works for the
Marquess of Westminster's Fonthill Abbey by Burn. Now consists of
the Lancaster tower with short 2-storey wing attached to the north,
4-storey tower has angle buttresses, west side has two lancets to
ground floor, 3-light Perpendicular-style window with hoodmould to
first floor, oriel window with heraldic shields below and casements
to second floor, third floor has blocked mullioned window with
hoodmould, battlemented parapet to pitched roof. Two-storey range
to left has three small lancets to ground floor and three large
pointed lancets with hoodmoulds to first floor, battlemented
parapet with corner pinnacles. Left return has angular 2-storey
bay with Tudor-arched window and lancets with tracery, some blind,
buttresses with offsets and battlemented parapet, rear of this
range has lancets and Tudor-arched doorway. Right return of tower
has 2-light Perpendicular window with wooden tracery inserted in
wall blocked off following demolition of formerly attached range.
To rear of tower is square stair turret with chamfered loopholes,
rear of tower has two Tudor-arched windows with casements and blind
lancet with hoodmould over. Attached to rear of 2-storey range is
single-storey cloister range rebuilt in this position. after
demolition of rest of Abbey; 5 bays of chamfered Tudor-arched
openings with flat roof to right of range with 3-light and 2-light
mullioned casements, planked door with hoodmoulds, and double-
gabled roof with parapet and crocketed pinnacles, right part ends
with octagonal turret with open cupola on shafts with octagonal
pointed roof with finial.
Interior partly inaccessible at time of survey (December 1985) but
ground floor retains Tudor-arched openings and fireplace, possibly
reset. The first floor of the tower and short range to north was
occupied by the Vaulted Corridor, the Oratory and the Sanctuary
with bedrooms in the two floors above, including the state bedroom;
no original fittings survive. Service quarters on ground floor.
Fonthill Abbey approached from the west via a wooded avenue, half a
mile long and set in woodland, partly planted by Beckford, and
enclosed by a wall in 1793. Important as only tangible remnant of
an extraordinary house.
(J. Lees-Milne, William Beckford, 1976; B. Alexander in Country
Life 1st December 1966)
Listing NGR: ST9182230997
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.