Old Higher Lighthouse

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The Old Higher Lighthouse in 2007.

The Old Higher Lighthouse is a disused 19th-century lighthouse on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, England. It is situated on the west side of Portland, and at the higher part of Portland Bill - known as Branscombe Hill. The lighthouse is Grade II Listed.[1][2]


The surrounding coast of Portland, namely Portland Bill and Chesil Beach, have been notorious for the many vessels that became shipwrecked in the area over the centuries.[3][4] After years of local petitions to Trinity House, the organisation saw a lighthouse at the Bill as being necessary. George I granted Trinity House's patent in 1716.[3][4][5]

Two lighthouses were built at Portland Bill - one at Branscombe Hill, and the other on lower land.[4] The two lighthouses shone out for the first time on 29 September 1716.[3] In 1788 Trinity House had Argand lamps installed within the higher lighthouse - the first lighthouse in England to be fitted with them.[6] In 1869 they had both lighthouses rebuilt.[3][6]

At the turn of the 20th-century, Trinity House put forward plans for a new lighthouse at Bill Point, to replace both current lighthouses.[6][3][7] The new lighthouse was completed in 1905,[4] leaving the original two lighthouses to be auctioned.[4][8]

In 1923 the lighthouse was purchased by the doctor, pioneer of birth control and Portland Museum founder Marie Stopes as a summer residence.[9] During World War II, the Royal Observer Corps used the lighthouse tower as a lookout.[10] During the early 1960s the lighthouse was run as a restaurant.[11]

The property's latest owners bought the lighthouse in 1981 and refurbished the entire property. The lighthouse's paraffin store was converted into a holiday let. With a total of four cottages within its grounds, both the Branscombe Lodge Cottage and Stopes Cottage remain available as holiday lets.[12]


  1. "Old Higher Lighthouse Stopes Cottage | Portland Bill | | Dorset And Somerset | Self Catering Holiday Cottage". Sykescottages.co.uk. 1 November 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1203104)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 19 January 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "Portland Bill". trinityhouse.co.uk. Retrieved 13 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 "Portland – Three Lighthouses Walk". dorsetlife.co.uk. Retrieved 13 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Legg, Rodney (1999). Portland Encyclopaedia. Dorset Publishing Company. p. 68. ISBN 978-0948699566.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Portland Year Book". ancestry.com. Retrieved 13 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Portland Year Book". ancestry.com. Retrieved 13 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Mackenzie, Roy (1999). Portland: A Topographical and Historical Gazetteer. p. 23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. http://www.oldhigherlighthouse.com/history.html
  10. Historic England. "Monument No. 1413281". PastScape. Retrieved 3 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "675690". geoffkirby.co.uk. Retrieved 13 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. http://www.oldhigherlighthouse.com/history.html

External links

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