Fonthill Open Days 2024

Old Fonthill Abbey Grounds

The grounds of Old Fonthill Abbey will be open to the public on Sundays 5th and 19th May from 10.30 – 4.30, giving the opportunity for visitors to enjoy bluebell woods, rhododendrons, lakeside walks and Abbey views. There will be a barbecue (with Buttlings bangers) homemade cakes and soup.

The openings are in aid of the Cure Parkinson’s Trust and local charities. Entry donation, we suggest £10 per adult. Polite dogs are welcome. Unfortunately in the event of very high winds, if Stourhead NT closes, the Fonthill grounds will also close. Please check the NT website.

Old Fonthill Abbey, Fonthill Gifford. On the Hindon Newtown Lane. SP3 6SP

Fonthill House

The gardens of Fonthill House will be open by invitation of Lord Margadale on Sundays 28th April (in aid of Seeds4Success) and 9th June (in aid of the Atlantic Salmon Trust).

There are woodland walks and formal gardens, which have been extensively redeveloped under the direction of Tania Compton and Marie-Louise Agius. There is a fountain by William Pye and other sculptures.

See the Fonthill Estate website for more information.

Fonthill House, Tisbury. SP3 5SA

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Old Fonthill Abbey Grounds

The grounds of Fonthill Old Abbey will be open on Sundays 30th April and 14th May (from 10.00am – 5.00pm) in aid of Parkinson’s Cure and local charities (the parish churches of Hindon and Fonthill Gifford and Hindon Village School).

Visitors (including dogs on leads) are invited to take a good hike or gentle stroll through the woods and around the lake. (Some paths are steep and rugged). The bluebells should be at their best on 30th April and rhododendrons on 14th May. There will be books to browse explaining the history of the estate.

Homemade cakes and soup, and Buttling’s prize-winning bangers on the barbecue, together with tea and coffee will be available.

Unfortunately, in the event of high winds, if Stourhead NT closes, then the Fonthill grounds will also close. Please check the Stourhead NT website.

Entrance SP3 6SP on the Hindon Newtown lane. Donations (suggest £8). Please bring cash.

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Fonthill Fever

Ticket to the 1823 Fonthill Abbey Sale

Shaftesbury’s Gold Hill Museum’s Fonthill Fever exhibition, exploring the 1822 and 1823 Fonthill Abbey sales, continues through 2023. Daily 10.30 – 16.30 until 31 October.

Further information:

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The Beckford Journal: Vol 28

The latest issue of The Beckford Journal, Volume 28 (2022) has recently been distributed to members.

It has articles on ‘The Fonthill Sale of 1822’ by Robert J. Gemmett, and ‘Beckford’s Collection of Engraved Gems’ by Thomas Heneage.

Antony Griffiths writes on ‘Some Ceramics in Beckford’s Collection’, and Susan Bennett contributes ‘Two Degrees of Separation: William Beckford and the Society of Arts’.

There are also articles by Jon Millington on ‘Who Wrote Storer’s Description of Fonthill Abbey (1812)?’, and Amy Frost on ‘Uncovering the Grotto Tunnel at Beckford’s Tower’.

The volume contains tributes to Gerlof Janzen and Philip Hewat-Jaboor, Vice-Presidents of the Beckford Society who sadly died in 2022.

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International Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies

Every four years, the International Society of Eighteenth Century Studies holds an International Conference. Their next conference takes place in Rome, on 3 – 7 July 2023.

Previously there was a Beckford presence at these conferences in the form of a Round Table organised by Kenneth Graham of Guelph University. The Beckford Society is interested in reviving this tradition, and invites proposals from scholars, whether or not with academic affiliations, who would like to attend the conference and contribute to a Round Table. The conference theme is Antiquity and the Shaping of the Future in the Age of Enlightenment, which gives ample scope for a variety of approaches and topics of Beckfordian interest. However, the call for contributions is urgent, as the deadline is expiring and if there is sufficient support a Round Table proposal would need to be submitted before the end of this month. The Round Table would take the form of five or six participants spending no more than five minutes summarising their research project, followed by group discussion.

If you are interested in submitting a proposal, attending a wide-ranging and stimulating conference and having the pleasure of spending some days in Rome in July, please e-mail Stephen Clarke at

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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 Psychiatrist. 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, the letters of Oscar Wilde, Keats’ letters, 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.

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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.

Diary of Events

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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.

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