Who was he?
William Thomas Beckford (1 October 1760 – 2 May 1844), usually known as
William Beckford, was an English novelist, a profligate and
consummately knowledgeable art collector and patron of works of
decorative art, a critic, travel writer and sometime politician,
reputed to be the richest commoner in England. He was Member of
Parliament for Wells from 1784 to 1790, for Hindon from 1790 to 1795
and 1806 to 1820. He is remembered as the author of the Gothic novel
Vathek, the builder of the remarkable lost Fonthill Abbey and Lansdown
Tower ("Beckford's Tower"), Bath, and especially for his art collection.
Why was he in Bath?
In 1822 he sold Fonthill, and a large part of his art collection, to
John Farquhar for £330,000 (£25.8 million as of 2010), and
moved to Bath, where he bought No. 20 Lansdown Crescent and No. 1
Lansdown Place West, joining them with a one-storey arch thrown across
a driveway. In 1836 he also bought Nos. 18 and 19 Lansdown Crescent
(leaving No 18 empty to ensure peace and quiet).
He spent his later years at Lansdown Crescent, and he commissioned
architect Henry Goodridge to design a spectacular folly on Lansdown
Hill: Lansdown Tower, now known as Beckford's Tower, in which he kept
many of his treasures.
The text reads
"Here lived William Beckford 1822-1844"
Location map of 20 Lansdown Crescent (off map to North):
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