Gerlof Janzen (1951-2022)

We are deeply saddened by the death of our Vice-President Gerlof Janzen on 17 June.

It was through his prompting, following a visit to Beckford’s Tower, in May 1993, that the Beckford Society came into being.

Gerlof was born in Rotterdam and after medical studies, specialised as a Clinical Psychologist. He was formerly Dean of Education at Erasmus University, Rotterdam and Medical Director of Dijk and Duin, Castricum.

Passionate about English literature, he was a founding member and Chairman of the Dutch Byron Society. From the 1990s, he embarked on a series of translations, often made as he commuted by train from Amsterdam to Rotterdam. The first being Beckford’s Dreams, Waking Thoughts and Incidents, published in 1991, which was followed by Beckford’s Portuguese and Spanish Journals, 1992. His other translations included Shelley’s The Cenci, Keats’ letters to Fanny Brawn, the letters of Oscar Wilde, Water Pater’s Imaginary Portraits, and translations of William Maxwell and Elisabeth de Waal.

The Society’s first foreign visit was a Netherlands weekend in November 1998, organised by Gerlof and his partner Ronald de Leeuw, Director General of the Rijksmuseum, where we experienced the warmth of their hospitality, including a tour of the Rijksmuseum.

Our heart-felt sympathy on Gerlof’s death goes to Ronald de Leeuw.

Tributes will appear in the next issue of The Beckford Journal.

Fonthill Fever

Fonthill Fever Exhibition @ Gold Hill Museum, Shaftesbury

A major Temporary Exhibition, “Fonthill Fever”, marks the bicentenary of William Beckford’s sale of the Fonthill Abbey estate in 1822.  Curated by Sidney Blackmore, Secretary of the Beckford Society, the full story of the sale (plus a repeat sale in 1823, and an almighty crash in 1825) is superbly told in this not-to-be-missed FREE exhibition at Gold Hill Museum, Shaftesbury.

Philip Hewat-Jaboor (1953 – 2022)

With sadness we record the death of Philip Hewat-Jaboor, a Vice-President of the Beckford Society.

He was our first member, and generously suggested people who might be interested in joining. He was continuously supportive both of the Society and Beckford’s Tower.

His enthusiasm for Beckford resulted in the stupendous William Beckford: An Eye for the Magnificent exhibition (Bard Graduate Center, New York and Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, 2001/2002). This was followed by the Thomas Hope. Regency Designer exhibition (Bard Graduate Center, New York and Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, 2008). The catalogues of these two exhibitions are a monument to his passion for the decorative arts; works which will be used by many successive generations.

We shall miss his friendship, sense of style and connoisseur’s eye. We send our condolences to his family and partner Rod Keenan.

Fonthill Open Days – 2022

The Old Fonthill Abbey Estate (which contains the remains of William Beckford’s Fonthill Abbey) will be open on Sundays 1st and 15th May. 10.00am – 5.00pm (entrance at SP3 6SP). In aid of Parkinsons UK and local charities.

Visitors are invited to take a good hike (or gentle stroll) around the woods and lake. Bluebells should be in flower on 1 May and rhododendrons on the 15th. As in previous years, there will be homemade cakes and soup, prize-winning bangers on the barbecue, and tea and coffee all day.

In the event of high winds, if Stourhead NT is closed, reluctantly so will the Old Fonthill Abbey Estate. If in doubt, please check the NT website.

The gardens of Fonthill House (SP3 5SA) will be open in aid of Beckford’s Tower on Sunday 8 May. Wonderful woodland walks, magnificent views and formal gardens.