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Caldey Lighthouse

aka Chapel Point Lighthouse

Caldey Island, Pembrokeshire

Featured Location Guide

Caldey Lighthouse is located on the south end of Caldey Island, on the summit of the island, not far from the old Priory.

On either side of the tower and connected to it are two houses which were occupied by the keepers and their families prior to the conversion of the station to automatic and unmanned operation in 1927.

Its History

An application to build the Lighthouse was made in March 1827 on behalf of traders in Carmarthen Bay. It was commissioned by Trinity House and built by Joseph Nelson at a cost of 4,460. The light was first lit in 1829.

The light was intended to help coastal traffic trading limestone and coal to mid and north Wales but the light also helped long distance and North American traffic identify the Bristol Channel and avoid confusion with the English Channel.  It acts in conjunction with the Lundy Island North Lighthouse to the south, and has a range of 13 nautical miles. Cardiff Central Library holds a wash-drawing of the Lighthouse under construction by Charles Norris.

The Lighthouse is a squat, round, brick-lined limestone tower of 17.07m (56ft), with walls 0.91m (3ft) thick at the base and 2ft 6in thick at the top. The light stands 64m (210ft) above high-water mark.

The Lighthouse was converted to automatic operations in 1929. It was the last Trinity House lighthouse to be powered by gas, eventually being converted to electricity in 1997.

Photo By Christine Mathews

Keeper's Cottages
The lighthouse keepers cottages, that flank the Lighthouse, are two storey, with hipped roofs, octagonal chimneys, and a one storey linking corridor. This forms a U-shape, with the Lighthouse at the centre of the south side, and enclosed gardens to the north. The cottages were built around 1868-70 by T. C. Harvey, C.E.

Photo by Tom Pennington

These two older views (postcards) show that Caldy Lighthouse has changed very little,
the only major change would appear to be the reduction in height of all the chimneys.
The lower image is probably early 1930's, the top one probably a little later.

Old images are a part of the Camera Images GBPictures archive

Caldey Island

Caldey Island, 3 miles off  the south Wales coast near Tenby, has a long history.  It measures 1 miles long and less that mile wide. It has a harbour, small village, but is best known for the abbey.

The island's name 'Caldey' comes from the Viking name Keld-Eye meaning "cold island". In Welsh it is known as Ynys Bŷr,  named after an early Abbot Pyro.

A Celtic Christian monastery, not initially under the rule of Rome, was built here in the 6th century. Pyro was followed by St Samson, from the Celtic monastery at Llantwit Major. Viking raids may have ended this settlement in the 10th Century.

Later it' known to have been donated by the Abbey of Tiron in France to the Benedictine Monks from St Dogmaels, Pembrokshire in 1131 who, by 1136, had built on it. Along came Henry VIII and the dissolution of the monasteries and the monks were expelled in 1536. Much of their medieval priory is still standing today.

In 1906 an Anglican Benedictine brotherhood bought the island and erected the present monastery, and in 1913 joined the Roman Catholic church. In the early 1920's it was sold to the Order of the Reformed Cistercians.

The Benedictines left the abbey here in 1925, having experienced financial problems, and moved to Prinknash Abbey in Gloucestershire. We have a location guide, Prinknash Bird and Deer Park, which is within the Abbey grounds.

The Trappists who are now at the abbey came in 1929 from Scourmont Abbey in Belgium. They struggled at first to farm the island but later found perfume and tourism provided a good income. They now own the island and produce a number of  home grown items including chocolate, ice cream, clotted cream, shortbread and yoghurt, plus perfumes and hand lotions derived from wild flowers that grow on the island.

Boats sail to the island from Tenby during the summer months. Attractions on Caldey include a Norman chapel, a twelfth century church, the sixth century Ogham cross, and the twentieth century Abbey. Caldey Lighthouse was built in 1828.

The principal income for the island is tourism, with perfume and chocolate production providing winter incomes. The monastery opened an internet shop in 2001. The island also provides a spiritual retreat throughout the year.

There is a private guesthouse on the island as well as a fire engine, ambulance and a Coastguard team.

Boats run to and from the island every 15 minutes from 9.30am until 5pm Monday to Friday, and on Saturdays from mid May until mid September.

Tickets are available from the Caldey Island kiosk at Tenby Harbour entrance (01834 843545 ). The 20 minute trip leaves visitors at the landing spot on the beautiful Priory beach, the only safe bathing spot on the island. From here it is a short walk to the village and Monastery.

Lighthouse information Grid


Caldey Lighthouse, Caldey Island, Pembrokeshire

Current status:

Currently in use

Geographic Position:

51 37'.86 N 04 41'.00 W

Grid Reference:


Ceremonial County:



Round brick tower with lantern and gallery attached to two 2 storey keeper's houses. Entire structure painted white.

Map Link:

Maps Multimap

Aerial photo:

Google satellite view

Other photos:

Geograph 1  Geograph2 (near border of 2 squares)

photo photo

Originally built:


Current lighthouse built:


Height of Tower:

16m   52ft

Height of light above mean sea level:

65m   314ft

Character of light:

White And Red Group Flash Three Times Every 20 Seconds

Character of fog signal:


Range of light:

White 13 nautical miles, red 9 nautical miles

Owned / run by:

Trinity House

Getting there:

Boats run to and from the island, from Tenby, every 15 minutes from 9.30am until 5pm Monday to Friday, and on Saturdays from mid May until mid September





Other Useful Websites:

Wiki  Caldey Island

Other Relevant pages:

For more articles, lists and other information see the Lighthouses Section

Lighthouse Map of England and Wales

Featured List of Lighthouses - England and Wales  

List of Minor Lighthouses and Lights - England and Wales



Please let us know any other information that we can add to the Grid or page and any errors that you discover. Before making a long trip to any location it is always wise to double check the current information, websites like magazines may be correct at the time the information is written, but things change and it is of course impossible to double check all entries on a regular basis. If you have any good photographs that you feel would improve the illustration of this page then please let us have copies. In referring to this page it is helpful if you quote both the Page Ref and Topic or Section references from the Grid below. To print the planning grid select it then right click and print the selected area.

Please submit information on locations you discover so that this system continues to grow.


By: Keith Park   Section:  Lighthouses Section Key:
Page Ref: Caldey_Lighthouse Topic: Lighthouses Last Updated: 06/2010


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