Norfolk Coast Holiday Cottages was delighted to add The Old Hunstanton Lighthouse to its property portfolio earlier this year. It’s an iconic building that’s perfectly positioned between our Hunstanton and Old Hunstanton self-catering holiday cottages, and has appeared on many a picture postcard home from North Norfolk holiday-makers.
The current building dates back to 1840, although previously there had been several structures to warn sailors nearing land.
Local recluse John Puttock is believed to have built the first, a 100-foot beacon nearby, but a wooden lighthouse was built on the cliffs in 1665 at a cost of £200 by Alderman Everard of King’s Lynn. Each night, an iron basket at the top of the building was fuelled with coal and set alight.
Later in 1776, Hunstanton was put on the map when the world’s first parabolic reflector was built at the top of the lighthouse. The concentrated light which it collected and beamed back to sea offered a far more powerful beacon than previously, and the patent for it was passed to Trinity House, the General Lighthouse Association, for display in 1837.
Shortly after, in 1840, the building that sits on the cliff tops was built 120 feet above sea level, and purchased by Trinity House. The lighthouse’s lantern measured 12 feet in diameter and was hoisted 49 feet above the tower’s base into its position. The building incorporated two lighthouse keepers’ cottages and a prison cell in the tower’s basement, to imprison smugglers until they were transferred to Norwich prison.
Across The Wash, in Boston, Lincolnshire, St Botolph’s Church lit a coal-burning signal – the Boston Stump – to warn sailors passing between the two coastlines.
The lighthouse continued to serve sea-goers until 1922 when it was closed and sold to Le Strange Estate for £1,300. It was turned into a residential dwelling, with the cottages used as a café until 1939. Following this, the building fell into disrepair and in the 50s a Dereham builder purchased it for £1,600, with the light removed thereafter.
Hunstanton Town Council took on the property briefly until, in 1964, it was advertised in The Times and sold to a Cambridge architect for £4,670. In the following years, the lighthouse has been used as a holiday home and letting.
Instantly recognisable to anyone who has visited Hunstanton, we feel enormously privileged to take ownership of The Old Hunstanton Lighthouse, and later this year we will undertake a major refurbishment to create a unique destination for a holiday on the North Norfolk coast. Guests are able to enjoy the view from the top of the tower, and it’s undoubtedly a stellar spot to sit and enjoy one of Hunstanton’s legendary sunsets.