Beckford's Tower

Lansdown Road, Bath - Sleeps 4

About the property

Beckford’s Tower was designed by eccentric connoisseur and collector William Beckford as his museum and treasure house, its main interiors are as gorgeous as the objects they housed. Perched above Bath, there are fine views of the city from the gilded belvedere tower.

Beds 1 Twin, 1 Double

  • Sleeps4
  • 4 nights from from£372
  • equivalent to £23.25 per person per night

"The finest prospect in Europe"

This Landmark recreates the layout and something of the flavour of William Beckford’s extravagant interiors, especially in the sumptuous Scarlet Drawing Room. And like him, those who stay here can climb the fine circular staircase to the 'Belvidere' just below the elaborate, gilded lantern and enjoy, all to themselves, what Beckford called 'the finest prospect in Europe.'

Each morning, accompanied by his dwarf and pack of spaniels, Beckford would ride up Lansdown Road to his tower to play with his treasures in its opulent rooms. Visitors today can make a similar stroll into town to enjoy its many delights – the road emerges just above the Royal Crescent.

Floor Plan

‘A beautifully presented building with a lot of magic.’

From the logbook

Map & local info

Beckford’s Tower stands in a prominent position above Bath on the summit of Lansdown Hill and enjoys magnificent 360 degree views over the surrounding counties of Somerset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and beyond into Wales.

Beckford's Tower
Lansdown Road, Bath - Sleeps 4
Clear directions

Places to visit nearby

Bath Abbey

Roman Baths

Bath Spa, Prior Park Gardens

The Royal Crescent & Royal Circus

‘A beautifully presented building with a lot of magic.’

From the logbook

Your questions answered

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    No.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Directly from the main road.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Bath Spa – 2 miles
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    Yes there are two car parking spaces adjacent to the property.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There is central heating.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
    There is also an electric cooker.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There is one bathroom with a shower over the bath.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    The stairs are steep, narrow and spiral.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There is an enclosed garden.

    Booking and Payment

  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!
  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will advise you as to whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to carry out the changeover then we consider that it is open and available. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, which may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking.

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Is it true there are no televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there lavatory rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide lavatory rolls and a bar of soap, per basin but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.

A daily destination for William Beckford

 

Beckford’s Tower was built between 1825 and 1827 by William Beckford (1760-1844) to designs drawn up by H.E. Goodridge. It was built by Beckford as a daily destination of retreat from his main house, No. 20 Lansdown Crescent. He would retire to the sumptuously furnished Tower to read, appreciate the many fine objects and paintings he had amassed and contemplate the view from his belvedere.

 

Beckford himself was a fascinating figure who, while not widely known today, still attracts much interest and scholarship. He was a brilliant and precocious only child, born to immense if nouveau wealth, which derived from sugar plantations in Jamaica. Perhaps overprotected by his mother after his father’s early death, he was educated mostly at home and was sent abroad to finish his education in Geneva. This was the first of many European tours that were to encourage his eclectic cultural tastes and make him disinclined to take up the role in English politics for which his mother hoped.

He was a lively and colourful character, fond of music, the arts and, somewhat vicariously, religion and its trappings. He was very attractive to both sexes and it was clear early on that his preferences lay with his own. At 18, he fell madly in love with 11 year old William Courtenay, a relationship which developed over the next six years. In 1783, he married Lady Margaret Gordon, but this did not prevent the so-called Powderham Castle Scandal the following year, over his relationship with Courtenay. Beckford and his wife left England; it was a happy marriage which bore two daughters, but Margaret died in 1786. The scandal over Courtenay resulted in Beckford’s ostracism by English society for the next decade or so, from which he never really recovered. It also reinforced an increasing tendency towards reclusion as Beckford realised that his own liberal attitudes and refined tastes were not those of his social peers, or ‘the Worldlings’ as he called them. A prolific writer, he published a novel, Vathek, and various travel and other works during his lifetime.

He is mostly famous as the builder of Fonthill Abbey in Wiltshire, an extravagant Gothic fantasy based on mediaeval monastic buildings. Its central tower was close to three hundred feet high. It was designed by James Wyatt and was a hugely important building in its day. However, Beckford found he did not enjoy living in it and was heavily in debt. He sold it in 1822 to an aged gunpowder millionaire and moved to Bath. The central tower at the Abbey collapsed in 1825; only a fragment remains today.

The Tower that Beckford built in Bath is an important example of Picturesque architecture, which involved an informal relationship between man and his landscape and was chiefly characterised by its eclectic combination of styles. The Tower and its accommodation block represent a combination of what became known as the Italian Villa Style and of Greek Revival architecture, and they represent early and important examples of both. The blocking of the accommodation block is thought to reflect that of Tuscan vernacular architecture, from which a watchtower often sprang. Beckford and Goodridge’s innovation was in including classical Greek references to that tower. In its liveliness of style and integration to its natural surroundings, the Tower was one of the first introductions of the Picturesque to post-Georgian Bath.

Certainly there are similarities between the soaring shaft and almost top heavy belvedere of Beckford’s Tower and Tuscan campanili. The square shaft of the tower rises as some 130 feet of plain masonry, relieved only by small windows to the spiral staircase it encloses. The tower then bursts out into an exuberant expression of Greek references. The break between the plain shaft and the belvedere is achieved by a deep Doric entablature with a bold cornice. In the belvedere, three recessed windows are emphasised by square piers between. Above the next cornice are long panels of Greek key-fret decoration, while cubic blocks topped by roundels mark the angles. The next tier is a highly decorated polygonal plinth for the crowning octagonal lantern, and is made of wood with a fluted cast iron column at each angle. The observer is then provided with a continuous vista through the ring of round windows, which present themselves at eye-height internally.

 

The Tower is 154 feet high

After repairs carried out by the Beckford Tower Trust from 1997, the Lantern is now crowned once more with an accurate replica of Beckford’s cast iron acroteria, of which only a single length had survived. The Tower’s total height is 154 feet, from a spot already 800 feet above sea level.

 

The Lantern is thought to have been inspired by the Tower of Winds (an appropriate reference in this exposed spot) and the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, both in Athens. Their use as sources for Greek Revival work was not new, but it was their use together that was new and daring. Only three earlier examples are known, and these were all in London churches.

The accommodation block at the base provided the villa reference, with its impression of low massing, flats roofs, small paired semi-circular windows and pierced parapets. The entrance porch presents a loggia in miniature, with three semi-circular headed arches with heavy imposts. The freestanding arch on the roof of the block turned the chimneys into an integrated folly. Originally, the windows were all plate glass (then considered a prodigy) and covered by gilded cast iron grilles, which lent a touch of the Byzantine.

After Beckford’s death in 1844, his daughter gave Beckford’s Tower and grounds to Walcot Parish for a funerary chapel and cemetery. The Tower itself grew increasingly dilapidated and in 1931 was seriously damaged by fire. Repaired and altered at this stage, the Tower remained a chapel until 1970, when the Church deconsecrated it and declared the cemetery redundant. The Tower was converted into residential accommodation in 1972. In 1977 the Beckford Tower Trust was formed and a major repair programme followed in 1997. In 2000, the Landmark Trust took a long lease on the rooms in the ground floor of the accommodation block.

Beckford used the Tower as a private museum for his fine collection of objets de vertu, riding up most days from his house on Lansdowne Crescent. The display rooms were richly decorated, their appearance in Beckford’s time captured in lithographs by H.E. Goodridge. Because such detailed and reliable evidence survived, Landmark took the decision to reinstate the rich finishes in the vestibule (today’s kitchen) and the Scarlet Drawing Room to an appearance that Beckford himself would recognise. The painted coffered ceiling was recreated and silk moiré hung on the walls. A plywood replica was made of the fine marble console, and this and the chimneypiece were skilfully marbled using traditional paint techniques.

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

QuestionWhat's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.