History of the Old Higher Lighthouse
back to 1716 the Old Higher Lighthouse was the first true lighthouse
on Portland Bill, although there was a beacon on the site back
as far as 1620.Originally it was lit by 16 oil burners named
after their inventor, Argond, a Frenchman. It was the first
lighthouse to use Argond lamps and was also the first in the
world to have a true reflector.
one time, along with all other lighthouses, it was compulsorily
purchased by Trinity House who were concerned that it was
not always lit, making navigation around Portland doubly treacherous.
Rebuilt in 1869 it was visited by King George III who, when
on one of his frequent trips to Weymouth, requested to see
"this new lighthouse at Portland Bill".The Old Higher
Lighthouse remained in use until 1906 when the current red
and white lighthouse superseded it.
to a private buyer for £400 it has since had around
five owners before the current ones. Doctor Marie Stopes (pioneer
of birth control) owned the lighthouse from 1923 until 1958
and some of her many visitors included George Bernard Shaw,
HG Wells and Thomas Hardy who came to tea with his wife. During
World War II Dr Stopes rented it out to naval officers who
were visited by friends and family, including Margot Fonteyn
(when a mere ballerina) and her mother.
The current owners bought the property in 1981 after it had
lain derelict since the mid-1960s. Much love, sweat and tears
has transformed the lighthouse into the completely refurbished
building you'll find now. What was once the old paraffin store
is now a warm, comfortable cottage available for holiday lets.
Although separated from the tower by 30ft, access is available
so that guests can make the most of the fantastic views along
this part of the World Heritage Coast.
Old Higher Lighthouse, Portland Bill, Dorset DT5 2JT Tel: