Composers of Architecture: Walpole and Beckford (Public lecture, 24th October)

A cross section of Fonthill Abbey in Wiltshire, England from John Rutter’s Delineations of Fonthill (1823), via Wikimedia Commons.

William Beckford, famous for the development of Fonthill Abbey, and Horace Walpole, who devised Strawberry Hill, were two of the most original architects and writers of the eighteenth century. At the next public lecture in our Walpole and His Legacies series, Marion Harney will show how these two great buildings open a window into the minds of their developers. All welcome on 24th October at 18.15, in Elvet Riverside 141.

Horace Walpole and William Beckford share a page in English architectural and literary history. Both created highly original Gothic buildings and novels; Walpole the renowned Strawberry Hill and the first Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto; Beckford, Fonthill Abbey and Vathek. Innovative constructs of the imagination they represent autobiographical expressions of the complex psychology of their unorthodox creators.

This lecture explores the significant influence on Beckford of Walpole’s architectural and associative concepts of Gothic as a means of self-expression and self-dramatization facilitated through the creation of a sequence of dynamic spatial spaces, theatrical contexts and visual and sensory experience that provoke and stimulate the imagination. Walpole’s aesthetic legacy is explored through the synergies between Walpole and Beckford as composers of architecture and Romantic interior design as a means of expressing their personality, antiquarian motives, and the display of collections, scenic effects and architectural taste.

All members of the public are warmly welcome to this lecture series, looking at one of the most influential writers and thinkers of the eighteenth century. Booking is not required. Join the conversation online via #WalpoleLegacies, and find this event on Facebook.

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