I came across this in Stegman’s The Rule Of Taste:

[S]ince, however, Fonthill was not a cathedral but a house it was inevitable that it should be pronounced eccentric and looked on, if not with amazement certainly with suspicion, just as [George] Beckford must have appeared suspicious to his neighbors, a man who, inheriting a fine mansion, should pull down that mansion and build another and a greater, might be thought extravagant, but when he proceeded to pull that down in turn and replace it by yet another, and even larger, and with, moreover, a soaring tower, employing two armies of workmen laboring alternately by day and by night (the tower collapsed immediately it was completed, and was promptly put up again,)  then beyond doubt he must be thought eccentric; finally, for a man so wealthy and so evidently original to live alone in celibate aloofness was in the highest degree suspicious.

So, first, hella long sentence there, buddy!

Apparently, if Mr. Beckford had done all this but slept with the maids and local virgins and held parties, that would not have been suspicious at all.

I have a question for you guys at the end, so check it out.

Ah, to be Stinking Rich

Beckford, in case you don’t know, inherited 100,000 pounds. According to Stegman, he wrote Vathek (That’s a whole ‘nother post) in French in one sitting over the course of three days and two nights. (p84, fn 1) Also according to Stegman, he sold the house in 1822 for 330,000 pounds. The tower collapsed shortly after the sale because it had no foundations. The contractor was a cheat, it seems. The house was torn down shortly after the sale.

More Stuff

Google books is a goldmine, and I highly suggest a search for “Fonthill”, limiting your search to 1800-1825. There’s poetry and list of the books in the library. Here’s a link to the list of the contents being auctioned off in 1801. Ever wonder what kind of rooms these big old houses had? Here’s a few:

  • Dining Parlour
  • Turkish Room
  • Library
  • Grand Entrance Hall
  • Tapestry Room
  • Great Dining Room
  • State Dressing Room
  • State Bed Chamber
  • Great Saloon
  • Cabinet Anti Room
  • Picture Gallery
  • Small Anti Room
  • Right hand Attic
  • Left Hand Attic
  • West Corner Bedroom
  • East Corner Bedroom
  • Bedroom adjoining

Here’s a list of the contents of another of the bedrooms:


  • A blowing stove, shovel, tongs, poker, fender and hearth broom
  • A 5 foot 6 mahogany bedstead, with carved feet posts, double screwed, with quilted chintz furniture, lined with blue silk and fringed
  • A goose featherbed, bolster and 2 ticken pillows
  • A check mattress and 2 white ditto
  • Four white calico window curtains, 3 breadths, 10 feet long, with laths, lines and pins
  • Four white Holland spring blinds, with lines and tassels
  • A 3 feet 2 feet bedstead with white dimity furniture
  • A featherbed, bolster and 1 pillow filled with goose feathers
  • A white mattress, 3 blankets and a counterpane
  • A mahogany GUARDROBE, 8 feet wide and 8 feet 6 high, with sliding shelves and 4 drawers in the middle part, the two wings lined with green baize, 2 rods and 12 brass hooks to hang clothes on
  • A mahogany chamber table, a deal top for ditto and a pembroke table with 4 drawers
  • A mahogany chest night stool with brass corner plates
  • A neat inlaid French bedside table with cupboard, ornamented with ormolu
  • A ditto its companion
  • A mahogany chamber table with a drawer at the end, and a dressing glass with 3 drawers in a swing frame
  • A wainscot two-flap table, with 2 drawers, a dressing stool with cushion and case, a small glass in a mahogany swing frame and a mahogany stool
  • A pair of japanned and gilt fire screen stands, with Barre silk fan screens and 2 small mahogany chairs covered with striped hair cloth
  • Eight chairs neatly japanned with drapery backs and cane seats
  • A Kidderminster carpet to cover the room, 23 feet by 19 feet 6, exclusive of chimney
  • A pier glass in a rich carved and burnished gold frame, in two plates, bottom plate 43 by 37, top plate 37 by 26, and glass borders
  • A chimney glass in a white frame, 2 plates 31 by 16, and a dressing glass in a japanned frame
  • An inlaid pier table ornamented with ormolu
  • A neat inlaid work table en suite


  • Two copper kettles with covers and cocks and a still
  • A large pot and cover and a turbot kettle, plate and cover
  • An oval fish kettle, plate and cover, a stewpan and cover, 5 saucepans and 2 covers
  • Two large saucepans and covers and 3 stewpans and odd covers
  • Six French stewpans and covers and 2 cullenders
  • Four French stewpans and 2 covers, a frying pan and cover, 2 cullenders and sundry pieces of copper
  • An oval stewpan, a warming pan, a fish drainer, 2 brass skillets, 2 skimmers, 2 spoons, a bell metal mortar, pestle and a dredger
  • Two preserving pans, a bronze tea urn, a frying pan, 2 gridirons and 5 odd covers
  • Five pewter dishes, a fish drainer, 8 plates, 4 high iron candlesticks, a bronze tea urn, 2 tin stewpans and covers, a candlebox, a trumpet and a double gridiron
  • Eighteen stove trivets, part of the iron work of a copper, a large gridiron, a smaller ditto, 2 footmen, 3 beef forks, a pair of steak tongs, a cleaver and a charring dish
  • Two high charring dishes, 2 hand ditto, a pair of dogs, a round fender, a pigrron; a salamander, 3 jack chains and £ round stoves
  • Three tin fenders, and 3 iron ditto, large spits and sundry tin ware
  • Twenty tin steam kettles, a lark roaster, sundry tin paste and patty moulds and a quantity of tin ware
  • A German stove and pipe, 2 baking tins, 4 mahogany dish stands, a cheese ditto, 58 blanc-manger and pudding moulds
  • Two iron fenders, 2 steel ditto, 4 fire shovels, 3 pokers,2 pair of tongs, 2 high brass candlesticks, 10 pair of bellows and sundry lamp stands


  • The BARRE SATTIN HANGINGS of the ROOM containing about 205 yards, fringed, with a rich silk fringe, with gold and silk Bullions
  • A superbe Ottoman Sofa with the return from the door to the chimney, 2 squabs, 9 back cushions, 3 seat ditto and 2 bolsters, filled with hair, in canvas, covered with Barre sattin, trimmed with silk fringe, a set of cotton and a set of dimity cases, compleat
  • A DITTO, en suite with the preceding, from the glass with the return to the chimney, and 2 sets of cases
  • Six Stools, gilt in burnished gold, covered with Barre sattin, finished with gold welt and silk fringe with white dimity cases
  • A pair of Superlatively Elegant TRIPODS, formed a la Turque, exquisitely carved and gilt in a superior and expensive stile, designed by Boilieu
  • A capital Axminster Carpet, maroon ground, with a coloured border, 20 ft. 3 by 19 ft. 9, exclusive of chimney and windows, and a piece for the door way
  • A brilliant French Plate of Glass between the windows Ninety-eight Inches By Forty-eight, in a blind frame
  • A ditto, facing the door, Eighty-seven Inches By Forty-five, and a carved and gilt frame round the sides and top
  • A ditto over the chimney, Seventy-three Inches By Fifty-nine, in a blind frame
  • Two white Holland spring blinds and a hearth rug
  • Two pair of sashes, glazed, with 16 squares of plate glass, 22 by 19, and 2 pair of window shutters, with the suffcit, richly carved, gilt and painted, by Feuglet
  • Four Paintings on the cielings [sic], (by Boileau) the architrave, mouldings, and all the carved and gilt wood ornaments on ditto


  • Three lilac sattin festoon window curtains, lined, 10 ft. 9 long, with laths, lines and pins, compleat
  • Three pair of door curtains to match the last lot, 7 ft. long with brass rods
  • Four stools, carved and gilt, in burnished gold, the tops, stuffed and covered with sattin, with white dimity cases
  • A Brussels Carpet to cover the room, 22 ft. 6 by 19 ft. 6, exclusive of fire place and windows
  • Two India and 3 china chimney ornaments
  • Two bookcase doors with wire work and mahogany tops in 2 windows
  • Three mahogany doors with wire work west side of the room
  • Three ditto and 2 pair facing windows
  • Six ditto fronting the chimney and 2 ditto on return of side room
  • A neat inlaid sattin wood oval Pembroke Table with a drawer on castors
  • Three white Holland spring blinds and a hearth rug
  • A marble bust of Homer, on an inlaid marble pedestal
  • A ditto of Virgil on ditto
  • A 45 inch Bath stove, shovel, tongs, poker and fender
  • An elegant sattin wood Library Table, inlaid and banded, the top covered with red Morocco leather
  • Two small tables, on rich carved and gilt frames, 20 by 12

Question for You

So, having perused this, tell me in the comments what you thought/imagined/desperately desired as you read the various lists.