The Dunston Pillar

In the 1700s, travellers making their way from Sleaford to Lincoln had been confronted by highwaymen on the bleak, western heath of Dunston & Nocton. One such holdup ended in the murder of Christoper Wilkinson, who refused to hand over his money to Dick Turpin.

The heath was at the western edge of land owned by Sir Francis Dashwood, of the famous 'Hellfire Club'. He was determined to make the road safer on the western edge of his estate and decided to erect a land lighthouse, similar in design to the central cupola of Nocton Hall. It was to be much higher to make sure beams of light would spread across extensive brush waste to deter highwaymen.

Dunston Pillar 1751
Dunston Pillar 1751

Dunston Pillar - Feb 2001  
dunston pillar - 2001


dunston pillar - postcard
thanks to C. Sellars

Dunston Pillar Replica
dunston village replica

Originally, the pillar had a spiral staircase inside the 92' tower to take the lighthouse keeper to the gallery which surrounded the base of the octagonal 15'  lantern.  The view from the tower was said to be magnificent .  Lincoln Cathedral stood out to the north and, on a clear day, Boston Stump could be seen to the far southeast.  It was one of only 3 land lighthouses ever built in England. It proved very popular as an early 'tourist attraction'. There  were assembly rooms and a bowling green where travellers could rest and pass the time.

Dunston Pillar Detail
dunston pillar - detail

The original 1751 inscriptions on the pillar were:
East side: Dunston Pillar
North side: To Lincoln V Miles
South side: From the City CXX Miles
West Side: Columnam Hane Utilitate Publicae, DDD F Dashwood, MDCCLI


In time, the heath was tamed, becoming good arable land. The lantern gradually collapsed as the ironwork rusted and, in 1808, the lantern was replaced with a bust of King George III by the Earl of Buckinghamshire to celebrate 50 years of the king's reign..  

Bust of George III
George III - Lincoln Castle

This bust, together with the top 30 feet of the pillar was removed in 1940 as the pillar was considered to be a hazard to low flying aircraft.  The bust can now be seen in the grounds of Lincoln Castle.  In June 1991, the village community placed a smaller wooden replica of the pillar in the grounds of the village hall.

Thanks to Bill Chambers for supplying the background material for this page


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