Sidmouth's Fire Beacon Hill will live up to its name in Jubilee ceremony

A giant beacon will be lit at the Alban Arena

A beacon will be lit on the hill above Sidmouth - Credit: Archant

A beacon is to be lit at a site in Sidmouth for the first time in more than 300 years, as part of the Jubilee celebrations. 

The last recorded lighting of a beacon at that exact site on Fire Beacon Hill was in 1690, to warn the local militia and the Government about the French Fleet who were anchored off Torbay and attacking Teignmouth. 

On Thursday, June 2, as beacons are lit at sites all over the UK and Commonwealth to mark the Jubilee, Fire Beacon Hill will be among them. A beacon will also be lit on the Esplanade at York Steps by the chairman of Sidmouth Town Council, Cllr Chris Lockyear.

The Fire Beacon Hill lighting has been organised by Peter Endersby, a local member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. The RICS has a long tradition of participation in fire beacons for past Jubilees ‘to mark the guiding light of the Royal Patronage provided since its Charter was granted in 1881’. 

Peter linked up with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which maintains Fire Beacon Hill for Sidmouth Town Council, to get permission for the ceremony to be held. 

It will take place on the southern Harpford Common grass slopes of the hill (the remains of the original beacon are hidden by trees) overlooking the town below at 9pm on the evening of June 2. The fire beacon will be lit at 9.30 and last approximately one hour. 

Peter is still looking for a bugler to play the specially-composed Jubilee tune Majesty at the event – anyone who can help is asked to call him on 07779 472356.  

Most Read

This beacon will be one of over 1500 in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, UK overseas territories and capital cities of the Commonwealth. Old records show that England had 488 warning fire beacons of which Devon had 89 supervised by the Lord Lieutenant of Devon. The Sidmouth fire beacon and lookout are thought to have been used from the 11th century, and formed part of what was then a national chain of beacons which warned of the approach of the Spanish Armada in 1588. 

Access to the beacon is by foot, a 20-minute walk from White Cross, or by one of the several footpaths leading up the hill from the Woolbrook/Stowford area of the town.