Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday; 23rd March

Sunday is simple, this quiet cool day of the week has one subject that can be tackled with ease and that is churches, though in this instance it will be a Victorian cemetery.
William Beckford, eccentric of Bath,  born 1760, he or his father were at one time the richest 'common' men in England, worth in the region of of three hundred million pounds.  How deliciously class ridden that statement is, our William lived till 84 years old, and had spent most of the family cash by then.  Of course it was made on the back of slave labour and cane sugar plantations in Jamaica. He seems to have been married twice with two daughters but was bi-sexual and had an affair with a young boy that probably blighted his reputation for life, so in many ways a bit of a recluse as well.  He built one folly  Fonthill Abbey which starrted to collapse after seven years after being built and then he came to Bath.  Bought two houses, one being across the lane, and had a bridge built to join them.  From this row of terraced Georgian (Lansdown West) houses, he made a path (did he buy the land?) for about two miles to the top of the Lansdown and had a tower built with a gold cupola, in which he housed rather ugly Chinese vases (I have seen them) and his books.  And it was here that he would retire to each day to write or read, having ridden up from the town below.  
When he died, the land must have passed into private hands for a few years, and then was brought up by a Trust and turned into a cemetery, to house Bath's great and good. 
Bath has seven hills, just like Rome, and the walk up  Foxhill must always be undertaken in Spring when the violets and primroses nestle in Beckford's old sunken garden, now filled with sunken graves, ready to entrap you and sprain an ankle if you are not careful, but what a wonderful cornucopia of delights the grave yard reveals.

Like gossiping old ladies they sit in a row and watch the world go by

Tumbling around they present an untidy appearance

William Thomas Beckford's 'Saxon' burial, a mound and a ditch,
sadly neither of his children were buried on the mound leaving him in solitary splendour

The view down to Bath

Intriguing 'foreign' tombstone, is the rather scary crawling tree a palm?
Well who christened Thomas 'Pagan'... Lowe, what is it an afterthought,  there is definitely a man of that name in Bath, an illustrator of a book the Waters of Bath..

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