South Foreland Lighthouse
St Margaret’s Bay
Kent CT15 6HP
It is quite a long walk along the White Cliffs of Dover to the historic South Foreland Lighthouse but not a problem for healthy adults and energetic children. Guided tours of the lighthouse take place every half hour. There is No Parking at the lighthouse.
The South Foreland Light played an important role in the development of wireless and electricity and the views from the top are fabulous.
Although the cliffs are a magnificent natural feature they have always been a real hazard to mariners. At first beacons were lit along the cliff top to warn sailors away from the cliffs and the treacherous Goodwin Sands. The Romans replaced these beacons with two lighthouses in the 1st century AD, which can be seen in the grounds of Dover Castle.
For over 300 years the South Foreland lights safely guided ships into Dover harbour. Subsequent lighthouses were replaced with the current one in the 19th century.
In 1836 Michael Faraday was appointed as Scientific Advisor to Trinity House, the body responsible for lighthouses. Faraday spent a considerable amount of time, especially in the early 1860s, working on various proposed systems of electric light. One of these systems was installed and tested in South Foreland lighthouse.
On Christmas Eve, 1898 Guglielmo Marconi used the South Foreland Lighthouse to receive the world's first ship-to-shore wireless transmission, from the East Goodwin Lightship. This transmission alerted the lifeboats at Ramsgate to a ship in distress - the first time a lifeboat was alerted by telegraph.
Again in 1899 the lighthouse set another first when it exchanged wireless messages across the Channel to Wimereux near Boulogne.
On a less serious note, the South Foreland Lighthouse is also famous as one of the landmarks mentioned in the British Sea Shanty ‘Spanish Ladies’.
Plan Your Visit
Accommodation - Search & Book through Expedia here: External Link
If the lighthouse is a walk too far, we recommend visiting the National Trust White Cliffs of Dover Visitor Centre and viewing point on Langdon Cliffs, Dover where parking is available.
Lighthouse Opening Times
National Trust/ Opening Times External Link
Admission to lighthouse by guided tour.
National Trust/ Prices External Link
Building: 2 steps to entrance - Ground floor accessible. Many stairs with handrail to other floors.
Grounds: Loose gravel paths, uneven ground and steep slopes
No vehicular access or parking.
Tea Room & Gift Shop
National Trust/ Tea Room & Gifts External Link
Holiday accommodation in beautifully furnished former lighthouse keeper's cottage at the Lighthouse. Has far reaching views across the English Channel. Available for short breaks. There is more information on self-catering accommodation at South.Foreland Lighthouse
Contact & Further Information
+44 (0)1304 852 463
National Trust/ South Foreland Lighthouse External Link
- By Car
There is no vehicular access to the Lighthouse.
There is parking at The White Cliffs of Dover (National Trust) car park (fees apply), then walk along clifftops to lighthouse - 2 miles (3 km ) or at St Margaret's village/bay - 1 mile (1.6 km)
The National Trust Website has excellent Web: NT/ South Foreland Lighthouse/ Getting There External Link
Google Maps - South Foreland Lighthouse