Old Light Lower

Lundy, Bristol Channel, Devon

Overview

The lighthouse keepers' quarters are still divided into the two original flats, Lower and Upper. Lundy’s beauty, community and way of life make a world apart and despite its size, a stay here never feels quite long enough.

  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • ShowerShower

Beds 2 Single, 1 Twin

Sleeps
4
4 nights from
£339 equivalent to £21.19 per person, per night

Staying in a Lighthouse

Old Light, completed in 1820, was designed by Daniel Asher Alexander. Built of Cyclopean blocks of granite, it stands on the highest point of the island. The keepers' quarters are still divided into the two original flats, Lower and Upper. Unusually for Lundy, they look out over the northern part of the island.

This ground floor flat’s sitting-room has great presence, with a fireplace six feet wide.

‘Through crisp wintery mornings to lush sunset evenings, the island has been a delight.’

From the logbook

Floor Plans

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Map & local info

Built on Beacon Hill, the highest point on the Island, with only the Atlantic between it and America, the Old Light is on the edge of the moor, a short stroll to the village and the tavern.

Read all about Lundy

Clear directions

Places to visit nearby

Rocky shore rambles

Lundy wildlife talks by warden

Snorkeling safaris

Warden led walks

Seabird walks

Climbing

FAQs

    Booking and Payment

  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking. 
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925.
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking online.
  • How do I pick up the key?

    Please report to reception when you arrive on the island, where further information will be given.
  • What if I arrive late?

    If you miss the scheduled sailing or helicopter to Lundy, you’ll have to make your own travel arrangements using local operators.
  • What happens if bad weather prevents the ship from sailing or the helicopter from flying?

    If we cannot transport you to Lundy either by boat or helicopter at the beginning of your stay, and you have bought from us either a boat or helicopter ticket we will refund the rent you have paid for each night until you reach the island. If we cannot transport you from Lundy at the end of your stay and you have bought from us a boat or helicopter ticket we will cover the cost of each extra night’s accommodation on Lundy. If we offer you a sailing or helicopter flight to or from Lundy but you refuse it, we reserve the right to change your accommodation and/or to charge for it.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!

    Staying on Lundy

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.  Further information on access when visiting Lundy can be found here: https://www.countrysidemobility.org/lundy.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We occasionally offer bed and breakfast subject to property availability, with breakfast being served in the Marisco Tavern.
  • Do you provide catering?

    We do not provide catering, however, the Marisco Tavern is normally open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Please check the notice board on arrival for opening times.
  • Do you allow dogs?

    Dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Lundy is a working farm with large numbers of ewes and lambs at certain times of the year. For this reason we cannot allow you to bring dogs or pets (except assistance dogs) when travelling to, or staying on, the island.
  • What time can I arrive and what time do I have to depart from the Landmark?

    Your arrival and departure time on the island will be governed by the arrival and departure time of MS Oldenburg or the helicopter.  Your property will be ready by 4pm, however, this can often be earlier.  You must vacate your property by 10am.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings.  However, it’s possible to get married or have a wedding blessing on Lundy subject to obtaining the relevant license and/or consent. Please contact the shore office [email protected] for further information.   
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s).  

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There is standard range of crockery, cutlery, pots, pans and utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide fuel for the open fire/stove?

    Fuel for the open fires/stoves can be bought from the General Store.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies on the island.  There is a payphone in the Marisco Tavern.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there toilet rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea, milk and sugar awaits your arrival.  We also provide toilet rolls and a bar of soap per basin, but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers. Here are other things you might consider.
History & Restoration

A danger to shipping

A substantial rock set menacingly in the middle of a busy shipping lane, Lundy has a dismal record of shipwrecks. In the 18th century, well aware of its dangers, a group of Bristol merchants offered to build and maintain a lighthouse at their own expense if the island's owner would allow them a site. They chose Beacon Hill, the highest point on the island. Their choice caused endless difficulties and ultimately made the lighthouse unusable.

Although the foundations were laid, work did not progress until 1819 when, after persistent application to Trinity House by Bideford traders, supported by Liverpool and Cardiff merchants, Trinity House acquired a 999 year lease of the site for the yearly rent of a peppercorn.

The Corporation of Trinity House is a chartered body, whose objective is the safety of shipping and the welfare of sailors. It is the General Lighthouse Authority for England, Wales and the Channel Islands; the Principal Pilotage Authority in the UK and it is also a charitable organisation for the relief of mariners and their dependants.

The architect of the Old Light was Daniel Asher Alexander. He was surveyor to the Elder Brethren of Trinity House, having succeeded Samuel Wyatt in this post in 1807. Alexander was a close friend of the sculptors John Flaxman and Francis Chantry and specialised in large utilitarian buildings such as ware- houses and bridges. He designed the prisons at Dartmoor (1806-9) and Maidstone (1811-19) and in a lighter vein made alterations to Lord Radnor's houses at Longford Castle, Wiltshire and Coleshill, Berkshire (burnt down 1952).

The Lighthouse on Lundy was one of the last that he designed. It is an exceptional building set in an uncompromising position at 122 metres (470 ft.) above sea level. Alexander and his builder, Joseph Nelson, got it up in only a year. It is of island granite and the tower is unusual in having a granite cavity wall. The cavity wall was a brick technique whereby the regular thickness of the bricks made it possible to separate the outer and inner skin with a uniform cavity. Alexander adapted this technique for masonry on the Heligoland lighthouse tower in 1811 but Lundy was exceptional in having two skins of granite.

The maximum thickness of the wall is 3ft 6in at the base tapering to 2ft at the lantern, with a consistent cavity of 3in. The tower stands 96ft high, containing a spiral stone staircase of 147 steps. This ends in a balcony with decorated wrought iron balusters in the lantern gallery. The late Douglas Hague, an authority on lighthouses, suggests that this balcony, with its railings, is an addition, perhaps of 1857 when the light apparatus was also changed. The tower was non-residential containing only water-tanks in the basement, a workroom on the ground floor, with a landing above which was used for storing the oil. The lighthouse was first brought into use on 21st February, 1820, being the highest light in Britain, and having cost £36,000. It showed an upper beam which revolved by clockwork every 16 minutes, and a flash every two minutes. It was visible from a point 18 foot above sea level from some 32 miles.

Nine metres below on the exterior of the tower a rather curious canopy faces the sea on the west. From here a row of red lamps was hung, visible over an arc of 90 degrees. The angle of the canopy was arranged so that the light was visible only to ships 4 miles or less from the shore. If the vessel did not alter its course away from the island the lights disappeared - a warning that a collision with rocks was imminent.

Unfortunately, the red light often merged with the upper light at certain distances. To counter this, in 1839, the lamps were moved to a chamber 11ft 6in by 6ft 6in at the foot of the tower. Behind a glass window were set two rows of hemispherical reflectors, four above five, made of copper with a lamp placed in the focal centre of each, while the smoke was led off by a tube passing through each reflector to a common chimney behind.

Even this elaborate arrangement with its 25-mile range was frequently obscured by fog. In April 1858, Mr Heaven wrote that the light was not only useless 'in thick and blowing weather, but also in many dark nights, because when the island itself is free from it, the lighthouse stands so high that it is capped by fog'. Consequently he suggested that low lights should be built at the north and south points of the island. Possibly with their budget in mind, the Elder Brethren instead proposed a gun battery on the west side of the island.

The Lighthouse was therefore supplemented by the Battery site, chosen in 1863, when the two 18-pounder guns from the base of the light were installed. During fog one gun was fired every ten minutes. In 1878 the guns were replaced by guncotton rockets. Incredibly, two families lived on this isolated escarpment in their tiny cottages (now roofless) with the Atlantic waves crashing below and a brave seal occasionally showing his head.

Myrtle Langham writes in A Lundy Album that at one time there were 13 people living in the two cottages and when the Elder Brethren called on an inspection, some of the children were sent away to hide! Eventually the battery was abandoned when the North and South Lights were built in 1897 of granite drawn from the neglected quarries. Both these Lights have now gone automatic, the South Light as from 1995. Until then, the Trinity House helicopter, based near Cambridge, would land provisions and equipment every two weeks. Each keeper's shift lasted a month.

Current policy sadly decrees otherwise, but in the past no lighthouse could function without its lighthouse keeper. Connected to the Old Light by a passage, therefore, and designed and built at the same time, were quarters for two Keepers. These too were of granite with the gable end facing squarely into the prevailing westerly winds. Like the tower, the quarters were unashamedly monumental in detail, showing the influence of neo-classical architects such as Sir John Soane and the Frenchman Claude Ledoux, and their ideas on the imposing scale proper for public and industrial buildings. They also reveal Alexander's admiration for G.B. Piranesi's prints of Ancient Rome, which show gigantic buildings, made of cyclopean stones.

The Keepers' quarters were built to withstand the full onslaught of Atlantic weather and so their sash windows are set back deeply, with continuous overhanging granite dripmoulds of considerable projection. The copings used on the gable are so large and the kneelers at its base so heavy that these are supported on six attached square columns. Under the gable is a recessed relieving arch, a popular embellishment at that time.

The Lighthouse after closure

After the Lighthouse became obsolete in 1897, it was handed over to Rev. Hudson Heaven, as landowner. He leased it to Mr Napier Miles of King's Weston, Bristol, who used it for holidays until 1907. Thereafter it was available for rent until the Second World War.

In 1930 Mr Harman had agreed with the Marine Division of the Board of Trade and Trinity House to install radio telephone communication with Hartland Point Coastguard Station at his own expense. The Board of Trade selected the Old Light because the tower could provide admirable support for the aerial. The instrument was a Marconi XMB 1A short-wave combined transmitter and receiver with a call device which enabled the coastguards to ring Lundy at times other than the agreed signalling times of 9am and 4pm.

During World War II the Old Light was requisitioned by the Admiralty and housed a naval detachment. The Admiralty had asked Mr Harman if he could establish a watching station on Lundy and as the radio telephone was already installed at the Old Lighthouse, that is where it went. When the navy left at the end of the War, they donated their transmitter to the island, which was very welcome as the original one was becoming difficult to repair. Mr Harman resumed responsibility for it at the end of 1947. The agreement with the Board of Trade expired in 1960 and was not renewed, although the twice-daily calls to the Hartland Point coastguard continued as Lundy's only link with the mainland.

In 1947, Mr Harman gave the Old Light rent-free to the Lundy Field Society, which used it for many years as their HQ, with a hostel in the care of a resident warden. The Society also used the outbuildings in the compound and one was converted into a laboratory as a memorial to Mr Harman after his death.

For a short history of Lundy please click here.

To read the full history album for Lundy please click here.

A major restoration programme

Landmark carried out a major restoration programme at the Old Light. The first priority was to renew the windows in the tower which had disappeared, so that water was getting in. In 1976, Mike Haycraft fitted new windows of iroko, an African hardwood, which had been ready made by Rendells of Devizes. It was a complicated procedure since first of all a platform had to be constructed beneath the window openings to correspond with the steps beneath.

As there was no handrail, Mike had to wear a safety harness attached to the wall. The new windows were then screwed into the granite using a hand-drill, as there was no power. A steel handrail was then fitted up the staircase.

In 1979 a scaffold was erected around the lantern which was then repaired and reglazed and the windvane regilded. The door into the lower light chamber was blocked to prevent damp entering the tower. The two Keepers' quarters had remained as a hostel since 1969, being gradually improved and modernised. In 1982-3, they were returned to the original arrangement of an upper and a lower flat. The building was re-roofed at the same time, reusing all existing sound slates, with new slate from Cumbria to make up, supplied by Yeo & Co. from North Devon. The heaviest workable gauge of lead was used for the flashings - and even this has since been ripped off like tissue paper in hurricane force winds. These works were carried out as part of a large programme undertaken over two years by the contractor Ernest Ireland Construction Ltd of Bath, when all outstanding major restoration works on the island, halted by rising costs in the 1970s, were finished off in one go.

 

Getting to Lundy

Getting to Lundy

Your Lundy adventure begins even before you set foot on the Island.

During the winter season, (beginning of November until the end of March), a Helicopter Service operates between Lundy and Hartland Point on Mondays and Fridays.  This exhilarating flight takes approximately seven minutes, providing spectacular aerial views of the Island and North Devon.

During the summer season, (end of March until the end of October), the Island’s own supply ship and ferry, the MS Oldenburg departs several times a week from either Bideford or Ilfracombe. 

Find out more

Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.