"FONTHILL-GIFFORD, a parish in the hundred of Dunworth, county Wilts, 1 mile S.E. of Hindon, its post town, and 16 miles W. of Salisbury. The suffix to its name is derived from the ancient family of Gifford, who once held the estates. The village is small, and wholly agricultural. In this parish was the famous Fonthill Abbey, belonging to William Beckford, Esq., the author of "Vathek". It was built by Wyatt, but shortly after its completion was crushed to ruins by the fall of the immense tower, which rose to a height of 270 feet. It is said never to have been opened to the public but once, when it was lit up to receive Nelson and Lady Hamilton. The living is a rectory* in the diocese of Salisbury, value £351. The church is a handsome structure dedicated to St. Nicholas. There is a National school. The Marquis of Westminster is lord of the manor."
[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) - Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]