If you have stayed regularly enough at our wild and beautiful Lizard, there’s a good chance you will have heard the haunting cry of a foghorn piercing the air on foggy nights. Guiding vessels through the waters surrounding the Peninsula, the sound is a familiar chorus to locals and a crucial warning for those at sea. But where does the noise come from?
Standing loud and proud at the most southerly point in mainland Britain, the Lizard Lighthouse and Visitor Centre is a must-visit if you are staying with us at Penmenner B&B. Only a 15-minute walk from your private accommodation, it provides a fascinating glimpse into the history of the village, its maritime connection and also affords spectacular views of the coast throughout the year.
Dating back to the 18th Century, the lighthouse that you see today sits on the site of a former tower that was built in the 1600s. The efforts of Sir John Killigrew, a philanthropic Cornishman, the original tower was constructed to help ships pass safely through the treacherous waters of the Lizard – waters that all too regularly claimed lives with swollen waves and hidden obstacles.
A major project that incurred a huge amount of costs, the tower was finished around Christmas 1619 and a fee was imposed by James I on all passing vessels of one halfpenny a ton. Met with too great resistance though by those who didn’t want to pay, the light was eventually extinguished and the tower destroyed – only to be later resurrected in the form of a lighthouse in 1752 by Thomas Fonnereau.
This time met with support, the future of the lighthouse was sealed and it has been an important landmark and beacon for passing ships and boats ever since. Standing an impressive 70m above the water, it is a cherished symbol and guide and boasts a huge amount of fascinating tales within its walls – tales that are just waiting to be shared with you.
While you can wander down to visit the lighthouse all year, the visitor centre is open from February to October and is home to a whole host of interesting displays and exhibits. Sign up for a guided tour and explore the centre and grounds, before climbing up to the top of the lighthouse and taking in the incredible views from a whole new perspective.
Amongst the exhibitions, you can learn all about the workings of the lighthouse and accounts from the keepers who worked there – from great white sharks to raging storms – as well as finding out all about the engineering behind the structure and the intriguing technologies used. You can even see a pair of huge 12ft lightvessel optics, the solid bronze entrance doors from the Bishop Rock Lighthouse destroyed by enormous waves and the original hand-operated fire truck used by the keepers!
If you are interested, you can find out more information about the Lizard lighthouse, the centre and their opening hours on their website.