In a gale one night in 1800 the soaring tower at Fonthill Abbey
came crashing down.
He also bought property from William Beckford, whose famous Fonthill Abbey
had collapsed almost as soon as it had been built, along with other country houses, a London domicile on Harley Street, and even the Scottish Argyll island of Islay.
Like the audiences at illusionistic public expeditions and visitors to Fonthill Abbey
, the real-world analogue of Vathek's tower, Radcliffe's readers understood that they were being presented with a simulated version of reality, of "signs divided from their referents, objects distanced from their contexts, and spaces divided from the 'real' world" (159).
But near the end of that long career he changed tact and emerged as a Gothicist, famous for his quixotic Fonthill Abbey
which he began in the 1790s.
This stunning piece of craftsmanship, which was acquired when George Lucy outbid King George IV at an auction of goods formerly owned by William Beckford (1759-1844) over at Wiltshire's Fonthill Abbey
The genesis of Gothic Revival literature, the works of Walpole and Beckford, not only contain lavish architectural descriptive passages, but the authors were also the wealthy commissioners of two of the landmark buildings of early Gothic revival architecture--Strawberry Hill and Fonthill Abbey
. In both buildings we find an amalgamation of Gothic literary tropes; spectacular spaces, historical quotations and fantastic adornments.
We get a better idea of the Welsh wonders to come from Turner's paintings made earlier that month at Fonthill Abbey
For example, sustained references to Batalha Monastery occur in Malcolm Jack's essay on Portuguese Palaces, which are repeated in the Fonthill Abbey
essay and again in the Catalogue section.
He filled his magnificent Gothic extravaganza, Fonthill Abbey
, with the most exceptional art treasures spanning many periods and styles, from medieval, to Oriental and the Renaissance.
His creativity went into Fonthill Abbey
, its exterior design, its interior design, and its landscaping.
All of the writing is rich with magical references and you do wonder whether Beckford was thinking of Vathek when he began to build Fonthill Abbey
, with its high tower, where he would one day climb alone to study the stars?
He also is renowned for having built Fonthill Abbey
, the most sensational building of the English Gothic Revival.