Coastal Erosion

   The Future


  The History of Belle Toute Lighthouse
  • Circa 1691 petitions for a lighthouse were made due to the number of shipwrecks and sailors losing their lives at the hands of this dangerous stretch of coastline.
  • In 1828 as a continuing result of many shipwrecks, a wooden lighthouse was built on the top of the cliffs at Beachy Head. 

    It came into operation on the 1st October 1828. So successful was this temporary structure that an agreement was granted to build a permanent lighthouse.
  • W Hallett and J Walker began design of the new lighthouse in 1831.
  • Construction of Belle Toute started in 1832 using Aberdeen granite and local limestone.
  • The Belle Toute Lighthouse came into operation operation on the 11th October 1834 and the light from the 30 Argand lamps was thrown 22 miles out to sea.

    The location of the lighthouse was carefully planned so that the light would be obscured by the edge of the cliff if sailors were too close to the shore.
  • Over the years erosion of the cliff reduced the effectiveness of the lighthouse and in 1902 Belle Toute was decommissioned when the new lighthouse built at the base of the cliffs came into service.
  • In 1903 it was sold by Trinity House and changed hands a number of times.
  • In 1923 it was bought by a surgeon, Sir James Purves-Stewart.
  • During the second world war with its owners being evacuated, Belle Toute was damaged due to shelling by Canadian Troops using it as target practice.
  • In 1948 Sir James offered the building to the council and eventually they took it over due to its historical significance.
  • In 1956 Belle Toute was leased out to Dr Edward Revill Cullinan who carried out works on the building and installed modern features such as septic tank, mains electricity and water.
  • In 1962 the lease was sold and changed hands a number of times.
  • In 1986 it was bought by the BBC who used it in the making of Fay Weldon’s “Life and Loves of a She-Devil”.
  • In 1996 it was bought by Mark and Louise Roberts to use as a family home.
  • In 1999, due to continuing erosion threatening the future of the building the lighthouse was moved 17 metres (56 feet) back from the edge of the cliff by the impressing engineering work of Abbey Pynford.
  • In 2007 the Roberts' have put Belle Toute up for sale with the guide price of £850,000.
  • In 2007 the Belle Toute Lighthouse Preservation Trust has been formed to raise enough money to purchase the lighthouse to open it to the public, provide bed and breakfast accommodation and maintain it for future generations of visitors to enjoy.
  • In April 2008 Belle Toute was purchased by the Belle Toute Lighthouse Company Limited with the intention of opening it to the public as a hotel.
  • In May 2008 the Belle Toute Lighthouse Preservation Trust wound-up although Rob Wassell maintains this website as an information resource for this fascinating and magnificent building.

What's in a name

Click here to find out from where the name Belle Toute originates.

Your photos and experiences

We want to create the most comprehensive library about the lighthouse and the surrounding area that we can although we need your help to do it.

If you could send in your pictures or send in your words we will add this information to our archive and the website.



Belle Toute Lighthouse in its original position


Belle Toute Lighthouse Tower

The Belle Toute Lighthouse Information Resource by Rob Wassell        All information copyright        Website by RAW Website Design