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Beckford's Ride


Beckford's Ride is an irregular but continuous area of garden and woodland, acquired and developed from 1822 to 1844 by William Beckford. The land is connected by track or ride from the rear of numbers 19 and 20 Lansdown Crescent, Bath, to Lansdown Tower in the parish of Walcot.

Location, Area, Boundaries, Landform and Setting

Scattered remnants of Beckford's estate remain today in the mile and a half stretch from Lansdown Crescent to Beckford's Tower on the summit of Lansdown Hill. Beckford's area of pasture and arable between the site of the kitchen garden and Lansdown Wood is now occupied by private housing and Kingswood School (built in 1855).

Gardens and Pleasure Grounds

More recently, part of the area of the plateau above the woods and the site of the old quarries has gained additional housing. The Dyke Garden has also been built on. To the west of these housing developments, however, there is still much open grassland. The features of Beckford's Estate which do survive are in reasonable condition.

  • Gateway
  • Description: This feature is the embattled gateway. It can be approached today from Lansdown Road. The gateway, possibly by H.E. Goodridge, stands at the north end of the walled ride. It originally gave access to the land beyond the kitchen garden. The gateway has a plain round-headed arch with a studded door. It has a heavy battlemented parapet, and is in need of restoration. Through an iron gate by the gateway one can see one of the remaining sections of the terraced walk which overlooked the kitchen garden. This is in good condition.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Visitor Access & Directions

Access Contact Details

Some parts of the estate, such as the Tower, are now open to the public. Contact the Bath Preservation Trust for more information.

  • Conservation Area
  • Reference: Bath
  • The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens
  • Reference: GD1550
  • Grade: II
  • The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building
  • Reference: Beckford's Tower
  • Grade: I

Detailed History

William Beckford brought with him form Fonthill his head gardener, Vincent. The two of them set about Beckford's extensive scheme of landscaping Lansdown Hill, which stretched up behind the Crescent. When Beckford moved to the Crescent the hillside consisted of rough pasture, arable land and quarries. Beckford and Vincent transformed it into gardens, orchards, plantations, copses and fields. Running through it was a private walk from the house to the tower which Beckford built at the top.

The 'Ride' runs between high walls from Beckford's stables up to the embattled gateway (see features). The lower end of the path in Upper Lansdown Mews is now blocked.

On his death the estate was divided up and sold. The gardens became pleasure grounds for the residents of Lansdown.

Associated People


Related Documents
  • CLS 1/11/49

    Report for the Kingswood Estate, Kingswood School: 'Beckford's Ride: A Survey of the Landscape' - Hard copy
    Debois Landscape Survey Group - 1992

  • CLS 1/12/52

    Report: 'Beckford's Tower: A survey of the landscape' - Hard copy
    Debois Landscape Survey Group - 1994