ST CATHERINE’S HILL LIGHTHOUSE, ISLE OF WIGHT
St Catherine’s Hill is close to the southernmost point of the Isle of Wight. There’s a pleasant walk uphill from a car park on the road. Eventually the track opens out near the top of the hill to reveal an amazing medieval prototype for a skyrocket near the summit.
This is in fact St. Catherine’s Oratory, known locally as the ‘Pepperpot’, a stone lighthouse built in the 14th century by Walter de Godeton. It is the second oldest lighthouse in the British Isles – only the Roman-built lighthouse at Dover is older.
De Godeton was convicted of scavenging wine ‘belonging to the Church’ from a shipwreck. He was ordered to make amends, under threat of excommunication, by building a lighthouse. Wreck plunder / lighthouse penance – a rare early example of punishment fitting the crime at a time when theft of a sheep might mean death. Fires were lit in the lighthouse tower to warn ships at sea that they were close to the coastline.
There was an attached chapel at one time – hence the ‘Oratory’ – but it has been long since demolished. A replacement lighthouse was begun in 1785, but never completed. Locally this half-finished building is known as the ‘salt pot’.
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For a detailed description of Abaco’s iconic striped lighthouse CLICK HERE
HOLE-IN-THE-WALL LIGHTHOUSE, ABACO, BAHAMAS
For a detailed description of this remote and near-defunct lighthouse station CLICK HERE
ROOSEVELT ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE, NYC (1872)
(also known as BLACKWELL ISLAND or WELFARE ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE)
For a description of the lighthouse and its surroundings, click HERE