The Old Lighthouse, Lundy


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of The Old Lighthouse, Lundy
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Torridge (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SS 13192 44284

Reasons for Designation

Lundy is a small, steep sided island in the Bristol Channel, 16m north of Hartland Point, north Devon. Aligned north-south, it is 6km long by 1km wide and supports a predominately moorland vegetation. The 100m high cliffs and tabular form give it a striking appearance, visible in clear weather from parts of south west England and south Wales. Lundy's remoteness and (until the 19th century construction of the Beach Road) its inaccessibility, combined with a lack of shelter and cultivable soils, has meant that it has escaped more recent occupation or development. It therefore preserves a remarkable variety of archaeological sites from early prehistory (c.8000 BC) onwards, representing evidence for habitation, fortification, farming and industry. There are also archaeological remains in the waters surrounding the island - over 150 shipwrecks are already recorded. Most of the island's archaeology is well documented from detailed survey in the 1980s and 1990s.

Lighthouses have been used to aid shipping around Britain since Roman times, although only two of that date have been recognised. In the late Middle Ages (AD 1066-1540), lights were simple structures, usually a fire in an iron basket, or in a stone bowl called a cresset, placed on church towers. True lighthouses in purpose-built towers began to be built by the early 17th century. They were first fuelled by coal or wood, but oil lamps were in use from the 1780s, to be replaced later by gas or electric lamps. Other technological improvements wer made during the 19th century, including the introduction of light reflectors, flashing lights, identification patterns and sound signals for fog. Over the same period, tower design was improved, including the provision of staff accommodation. Lighthouses are found around the whole coast of Britain and, since 1698, on offshore rocks and reefs. Numbers varied over time, and many were short-lived or frequently replaced. Lighthouses were relatively rare until the 17th century, relying on local or private initiatives. Few medieval examples survive in recognisable form. From 1676, Trinity House, which had been first established with limited duties in 1514, began to build lighthouses itself rather than merely licensing their use by others. In c.1875, around 100 major lighthouses existed, supported by many minor lights and lightstrips. By the 1970s Trinity House still maintained 90 major lights, with 30 manned light- vessels and c.700m light-buoys. A number of private lights also existed. All surviving Roman and medieval lighthouses and lights are nationally important. Post-medieval examples retaining early fabric or fittings to a significant extent are also considered likely to be of national importance. The Old Lighthouse survives as an outstanding and well known example of its class of monument. Details of its construction and use are well documented in sources held in the Trinity House archive. This monument has been restored in part by the Landmark Trust and is much enjoyed by visitors by Lundy.


The monument includes a disused lighthouse on the summit of Beacon Hill, the highest point of Lundy. The monument is linked to the keeper's house and a small complex of buildings within a walled enclosure. The keeper's house and associated buildings, together with the enclosing wall, are not included in the scheduling. The lighthouse was built in 1819 on a foundation laid in 1787. The architect was Daniel Alexander and the builder Joseph Nelson for Trinity House. The lighthouse is Listed Grade II*. The tower is built of granite ashlar and stands about 30m high. A deep plinth has weathered courses and a string course near the top projects as a canopy over a partly blocked window on the west side. This window was built as an opening for a fixed light which was never installed. Instead a glazed lantern was constructed with a conical, copper-clad roof and ball finial on the top. In 1829 a second lantern room was added to the base of the tower because the top light was so often obscured by fog. This was also of granite ashlar and had curved glass windows. The roof to this annexe is now missing. Inside there is a stone spiral stair with 147 steps leading to the lantern. This lighthouse was the highest above sea level in Britain and, because of fog, a fog warning battery was built on the west coast of the island in 1861. In 1897 the light was superceded by the construction of the North and South Lights. The lighthouse is attached to the keeper's house by a short arched passage on the east side. This is not included in the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Langham, A, M, , Lundy, (1960)
Thackray, C, The National Trust Archaeological Survey, (1989)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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