#lighthouses – A London maritime institution with strong Irish connections stretching back over 500 years is opening its doors to the public to celebrate an important maritime birthday next month. In 1514 a young King Henry VIII granted a Royal Charter to a fraternity of mariners called the Guild of the Holy Trinity "so that they might regulate the pilotage of ships in the King's streams" and the month of May marks the 500th anniversary of this milestone event in British maritime history. Included in the celebrations at Trinity House, home to the Corporation and the working office of the General Lighthouse Authority, is a unique Open Day Invitation to the general public to discover the treasures and artefacts preserved and on display within its five elegant rooms and access areas from 10am - 3pm on Saturday, 17th May. There is no need to contact the House - interested day-visitors can arrive and wander about the House at their leisure and receive information from expert guides stationed throughout.
Enthusiasts unable to make this date can schedule a visit from 10am - 3pm on Saturday 20th September (only) as part of the city-wide Open House London promotion created by Open-City (www.open-city.org.uk) and staged on the 20th and 21st of the month providing rare public access to 800 other exceptional buildings in London.
Trinity House is located on Tower Hill overlooking the historic Tower of London and the picturesque Trinity Square Gardens containing a memorial to merchant navy heroes of two World Wars and the Falklands War. It is available for private hire on an exclusive use basis and throughout the year is a popular venue for prestigious corporate and social occasions and is licensed for weddings and civil service ceremonies (please visit www.trinityhouse.co.uk/events for more details).
Built in 1794, the history of the House is omnipresent and throughout the building, valuable paintings and antiques bear out the nation's remarkable nautical heritage. One of its more recent acquisitions is the brass bell from the Royal Yacht Britannia which was decommissioned in 1997.
Trinity House's connection with seamarks and lighthouses dates from Elizabeth I and the Seamarks Act of 1566 which granted powers to set up "so many beacons, marks and signs for the sea whereby the dangers may be avoided and escaped and ships the better come into their ports without peril." The first lighthouse was built during the reign of James I by Trinity House at Lowestoft in 1609, and the next 200 years saw a proliferation of light house building around the coast.
In its 200 year history, the building of Trinity House has welcomed royalty, prime ministers and Lords of the Admiralty and is today managed by Deputy Master, Captain Ian McNaught. Reflecting the on-going patronage of the Crown, the current Master of the Corporation is HRH The Princess Royal, filling a role held in former centuries by, amongst others, the diarist Samuel Pepys, the Duke of Wellington, William Pitt the Younger and, more recently, The Duke of Edinburgh.
About Trinity House
Trinity House is the working office of the General Lighthouse Authority (GLA) for England and Wales with responsibility for nearly 600 Aids to Navigation from traditional aids such as lighthouses, buoys and beacons to the latest satellite navigation technology. In addition, it inspects over 10,000 local Aids to Navigation provided by port and harbour authorities and those positioned on offshore structures. The venue at Tower Hill pays a rent to the Corporation for its use which ensures, as in all other aspects of the two organisations' finances, that the accounts of the Corporation and the General Lighthouse Authority are entirely separate and without crossover.
Incorporated by Royal Charter in 1514, the Corporation is also a major maritime charity, wholly funded by its endowments. The Corporation spends around £4m each year on its charitable activities including welfare of mariners, education and training, and the promotion of safety at sea. It is also a Deep Sea Pilotage Authority.