Monumental landscapes

15 May 2018
Ben Pentreath

We have had our friends Spencer and Austin staying over from New York. Always an opportunity for a monumental tour – which started with a visit to Chettle House, our project in North Dorset, and then went up to the great arch of Fonthill Splendens in Wiltshire, after lunch at the Beckford Arms.

I know I have blogged this great monumental arch before but it is always awe-inspiring. 

The house was knocked down to make way for William Beckford’s vast Gothick Fonthill Abbey – seen here in this painting by my friend Dodd – his finest and most famous picture. Famously, of course, the building collapsed twice. 

We left Fonthill, suitably awed, and made our way south to Tarrant Gunville for tea in the elegant restraint of a house that couldn’t be further removed from the tempestuous and turbulent history that we had just seen.  England at her best. 

And home….

For drinks with Jim & Nic…

And a visit to the woods, where Jim was showing us the remains of the World War Two American camp, pre D-Day, when thousands of US troops were billeted under the secretive canopy of the beech woods, here, as in so many Dorset woods in the lead up to the great invasion – so that the Nazi surveillance planes couldn’t see the vast build-up of troops that was underway. 

Forlorn cinderblock and concrete shelters are dotted through the woods – most only with foundations now. 

We drove up to the Dogstone – not an ancient burial spot, but the gravestone of our neighbour Tom’s dog. The place with the most amazing views in the whole of Dorset, as far as I know.

If you had been shooting an album cover you would have been in about the right place. 

Back to Jim & Nic’s and then supper at the Parsonage. 

Sunday morning was hot and bright.

I took Mavis for a walk while the house slept.

The countryside sparkled.

Sibyl and I popped into see Mum and Dad – while the Parsonage contingent went to church, reading the lessons slightly the worse for wear. And then a trip to the beach, at Hive, which was clothed in the dress of high summer. 

We came home for a late, late lunch of slow roasted lamb, and then said farewell to the Parsonage – 

Which on a day like this is almost impossible to leave.  We sped back to London on a traffic free afternoon (weird, but fortunate), and bounced in to the start of a week that is already whizzing by.  It was a fabulous time – and Spenny & Austin we’ll see you in NYC in a week or few!

6 comments on this post


If you’re going to have an arch – have a big one! Sobering to see the WW2 remains juxtaposed with heavenly views of Dorset. So much was at stake. Great post. Thank you. Nicola

Diane keanesays:

Ben, sorry, I neglected to mention the author of the Elle Decor quote in my earlier comment. It is from “Excess Granted” by Sadie Stein. Cheers!


Wonderful blog Ben stunning photographs.We too were fortunate to be staying in West Dorset the weather was glorious.The countryside was perfect like stepping into heaven.We were thrilled to meet you it was kind of you to say hello Harriet was so sweet to introduce us to you.Your blog really does bring joy thankyou.

Diane Keanesays:

What marvelous excursions! What a perfect time for your NY friends to visit Dorset, with the countryside in freshest bloom. Even the relics of the troop shelters seem to have taken on the romantic aspect of ancient woodland ruins.

Ben, did you know that Pentreath & Hall is mentioned in the June U.S. issue of Elle Decor? In an essay on maximalism: “At cult urban emporiums like John Derian and Pentreath & Hall, one can buy handmade paper flowers, marble fruit, and the nouveau-Cocteau fantasies of Luke Edward Hall.” Very cool!!

Hugs from Diane

Wendy Smithsays:

What stunning photos of the land blossoming into life in the greenest of greens. The sky sunset shots are truly stunning , such magical colours in the clouds. Thank you for taking the time to share your life with such gentle and comforting dialogue which bring great joy to my life and I’m sure all your blog followers. Wendy from Trentham, Australia


Dear Ben & Charlie
Thank you for sharing your wonderful weekend with us again.
Such lovely people, it`s always a big pleasure to see your friends or your family members . How nice it is to spend time with loved ones. Fantastic photos, fantastic landscape as always !
Love especially the photos from your sunday morning …… heaven !!!
Wish you a good week in London, the Royal Wedding is coming soon, hoping for a sunny day ! I`ll watch it on the TV 🙂

Yours Birgit from Germany 🙂

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