Beckfords Tower Houses

Beckfords Tower
Lansdown Road


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Beckford's Tower, originally known as Lansdown Tower, is an architectural folly built in neo-classical style on Lansdown Hill, just outside Bath, Somerset, England.

Standing 120 feet (37 m) high, the tower was completed in 1827 for local resident William Beckford to a design by Henry Goodridge.

Beckford, who wished that he had built it forty feet higher, but admitted that such as it is, it is a famous landmark for drunken farmers on their way home from market, used the tower as both a library and a retreat, located at the end of pleasure gardens called Beckford's Ride which ran from his house in Lansdown Crescent up to the Tower at the top of Lansdown Hill; he made it his habit to ride up to the tower, view the progress of gardens and works, and walk down to breakfast.

Beckford's own choice of the best of works of art, virtu, books and prints and rich furnishings from Fonthill Abbey, which he had sold in 1822, were rehoused in his double ajoining houses in Bath and at the Tower.

One long narrow room there was fitted out as an Oratory, where all the paintings were of devotional subjects and a marble Virgin and Child was bathed in light from a hidden skylight.

The most striking feature of the tower is the topmost gilded belvedere, based on the peripteral temple at Tivoli and the Tower of the Winds at Athens, reached by a spiral staircase and offering excellent views over the surrounding countryside. With a strong spyglass, Beckford could make out shipping in the Bristol Channel.

Today, the tower is home to a museum collection displaying furniture originally made for the Tower, alongside paintings, prints and objects illustrating William Beckford's life as a writer, collector and patron of the arts. Visitors can follow in Beckford's footsteps and climb the spiral staircase to the beautifully restored Belvedere and experience the spectacular panoramic view of Bath.

The tower is owned by the Bath Preservation Trust and managed by the Beckford Tower Trust. The Tower is also available to rent as a holiday home through the Landmark Trust. It has been designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building.

A Victorian cemetery (no longer used for interments) now occupies that part of what was once Beckford's Ride that is closest to the tower.

The Tower and Museum opens from Easter until the end of October, on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays, 10.30am to 5.00pm. Weekdays by special arrangement (£50 opening fee).

The museum is located on the first floor of the Tower building and access is up a flight of steps. The Tower itself has 154 steps to the Belvidere at the top. Please contact staff to discuss your access requirements.

A panoramic tour of the Tower and Museum on CD-rom is available on request. Please contact the museum for further information.

Attraction Details

For enquiries about Beckfords Tower, please contact the attraction using the details below.

VenueBeckfords Tower
AddressLansdown Road, Bath, Somerset, BA1 2EE
Opening timesSee opposite
Entry costs
Attraction typeHouses

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