South Foreland Lighthouse

A landmark of the White Cliffs, the Victorian lighthouse was built to warn mariners of shifting sands and guide them through the Strait of Dover. A place of innovation and science, the lighthouse was the first to display an electric light anywhere in the world.

South Foreland Lighthouse is an Attraction. Area Dover


St Margaret's Bay
CT15 5NA

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The Upper and Lower Lighthouses that you see today were built in the middle of the 19th century. The Upper Lighthouse was heightened and refurbished in 1842, and in 1846 the Lower Light was fully rebuilt.

Sailors would line up the two lights, and when the upper light shone directly above the lower light, they knew they could steer safely past the southern tip of the Goodwin Sands. By 1904 the movement of the sands meant that this was no longer safe and the lower light was decommissioned. A much brighter flashing light was installed in the Upper Lighthouse, and South Foreland shone out nightly over the Straits of Dover until decommissioned in 1988. The light remained dark until June 2012 when it shone once again in honour of Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee.

A guided tour of the lighthouse ends with the chance to step out onto the balcony to take in the view from the top. See the cliffs stretch out for miles all around you, get a bird’s eye view of St Margaret’s village and a completely uninterrupted view across the Channel – on a clear day you can even see Calais! See what it was like to work here and what a lighthouse keeper did while on duty. Wave to ships in the channel and watch the Victorian clockwork mechanism that made the lighthouse flash.

Free activities are available to entertain the whole family; borrow a skipping rope or a kite to fly, or try a game of skittles, quoits, or giant noughts and crosses – just ask at the shop.

Take a picnic to enjoy on the lawn or visit Mrs Knott’s Tearoom in the former lighthouse keeper’s cottage for proper tea in china cups and freshly baked cakes and scones.