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Established in 1801 Burnham Round Tower replaced St Andrew’s Church as a navigation aid. It was discontinued in 1832 when the High and Low Lighthouses came into use.

In the 1700s, around two thousand boats used the River Parrett to load and unload cargo from Bridgwater Bay. Their route was surrounded by treacherous shifting sandbanks which have always been a hazard to shipping. The River Parrett flows into the Bristol Channel, which claims the second highest tidal range in the world, rising and falling up to 15 metres.

Burnham Curate David Davies paid the church verger £20 to build a four-storey round tower next to the church, attached to his house, at the northern end of the churchyard. This four-storey round tower built in 1801, exhibited a fire in a window at the top.

Davies received an annual income of £135 a year, raised through local contributions, but this was not enough to cover the maintenance costs, so in 1813 he was granted a 100-year lease to charge ships entering the River Parrett.

In 1829 Trinity House bought back the remaining 85 years of the lease. They decided to build a new lighthouse, and the light of the round tower was subsequently extinguished. Reverend Davies was paid £13,165.81 in compensation, a very significant contribution at the time!

Trinity House then ordered the tower to be shortened from four to two storeys, and a castellation design was added to the top so it would not be confused with the new Burnham High Lighthouse.

Burnham Old Round Tower

  • Established: 1801
  • Discontinued: 1832
  • Engineer: David Davies