Fonthill Park was laid out by the Beckfords, a lake was formed by creating a dam across a feeder stream to the River Nadder. This area was landscaped, planted and laid out to give the classical 'English Landscape'To the north of the lake as you approach Fonthill Bishop there is a gatehouse to the park in the form of an arch. The arch is still a dwelling and must be one of the most desirable properties in England.
The lake is for the most part fringed with trees, mature beech trees dip their branches into the water and provide nesting sites for water birds such as the Coot or Moorhen. As a child in the 'hungry fifties' when most working class kids never seemed to have enough to eat, there was a good meal available at the risk of a wetting. The trick is to climb the tree, shin down the branch, take some eggs and return trying all the time to avoid falling in or breaking the eggs. They standard method of preventing breakage was to carry the egg in the mouth. The eggs were boiled in water dipped from the lake in an old OXO tin; delicious, flavoursome and nutritious free-range fare for growing lads and lasses. More adventurous types were known to supplement the meal with a fish course of grilled fresh trout ( perhaps that should read poached trout).
Fonthill Park has a more recent history as a military camp area during WWII, American troops were stationed here and many beech trees in the area bore the initials of these temporary visitors carved into their bark.
All road junctions near the park were paved with granite cobbles or concrete to withstand the slewing of the tank tracks as the tanks turned; the evidence of this is under the modern road surface and will give future archaeologists something to ponder. An area at the top of the lane from the lake at its junction with the Hindon-Tisbury road is extensively paved, now almost obscured by the encroachment of nature and is known locally as Tank Park.
Anyone researching their family history in this area will find transcripts of census returns and marriages from 1625 to 1837 here.
For other local and Wiltshire parishes follow links on the Parish Directory of The Wiltshire OPC Project