The Unique Nine-Legged Lighthouse at Burnham on Sea

Nine wooden legs 

The waters of the River Parrett meet the Bristol Channlighthouse_600_800el at Burnham on Sea. Notoriously  dangerous, with a huge range of 40ft, the tide in the area is the second highest in the world. The builders of the nine-legged Low Lighthouse also had to contend with shifting sands and mud-flats that would soon destroy the foundations of a conventional stone building. Wooden stilts were an ingenious solution that make the lighthouse unique in the UK.

Victorian ingenuity

The Victorians built the Low Lighthouse in 1832, a time of enormous interest in technology and travel,  to replace the Round Tower. This was  a tall building originally situated next to the Church, funded by the local  curate on condition the Burnham fishermen and residents paid for its upkeep.

The Low Lighthouse fell out of use in the 20th century but was recommissioned in 1983 and now flashes every 7.5 seconds.

Leading lights

The Victorians built another lighthouse, the Tower or High Lighthouse,  at the same time, and the two buildings worked together to lead navigators through the River Parrett. The Tower is now a private house.


lighthouse-550The Grade 11 listed Low Lighthouse is a wooden square, constructed on strong oak legs, with a single, dramatic, vertical red stripe. Set at a height of 36ft, the light reaches 23ft above the high spring tides and shines out over 9 miles.


Murder at the Lighthouse

The Low Lighthouse stars in the first Exham on Sea Mystery. Libby Forest finds a body on the beach under the lighthouse and discovers her unexpected gift for investigation, helped by Bear, the gigantic Carpathian Sheepdog and Fuzzy, her aloof marmalade cat.
Read more about the Exham on Sea Mysteries…


More facts and figures about the Burnham on Sea lighthouses at the uklighthouse website 


2 thoughts on “Five Fun Facts: a Unique Lighthouse

  1. The Victorians were amazingly clever, weren’t they? Their ingenuity in engineering matters was second to none. I’ve never heard of a lighthouse on stilts before, but I can see how this was the perfect solution for the shifting sands. But it’s not very big and it must have been scary to be inside it on a stormy night. Now that we have lost our working lighthouses (the one in Llandudno is now a B&B), it’s good to know that this one is still sharing it’s light with the world. Thanks for an interesting post, Frances.


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