The Fire Beacon At Bozomzeal
The Fire Beacon
If you’ve ever walked the footpath from Dartmouth to Dittisham (or vice versa) you can’t have failed to notice the impressive fire beacon situated on the high ground up above Bozomzeal.
With wide ranging views across to Dartmouth, Dartmoor, Torbay and even Portland on a clear day it’s not difficult to see why the original beacon was located here.
The original beacon was part of the warning system devised by Sir Walter Raleigh to warn of an impending invasion by the Spanish.
Raleigh’s part in the defeat of the Spanish Armada was considerable. Indeed, the flagship of Lord Howard’s navy was the ‘Ark Royal’, a ship designed and built by Raleigh
Raleigh was also a prominent member of the Queen’s Council of War and, in his position as Lord Warden of the Cornish Stanneries and Lieutenant General, he was responsible for the organisation of the sea defences from Milford Haven to Plymouth and on to Portland.
He commanded the Queen’s army in the south west and set up the system of warning beacons which were lit on the 19th July 1588. One of the sites chosen was the current beacon site on the estate.
Raleigh joined the English fleet off Calais with orders from the Queen to Lord Howard “to attack the Armada in some way, or to engage it, if he could not burn it”. This resulted in the bloodiest sea battle of the conflict.
Fire Over England
The current beacon is not the original beacon, but a replica erected in 1988 for the ‘Fire Over England’ festival which commemorated the 400th anniversary of the defeat of the Spanish Armada.
Hoisted into place with help from 131 Independent Commando Squadron Royal Engineers from Plymouth & B Company, 4th Battalion, The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, the beacon formed part of a chain of more than 140 beacons re-lit for the celebration.
More recently the beacon was lit to mark the 50th Anniversary of the first ever Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) designation in the UK.
It was also lit to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June 2012.
This entailed a rather swift refurbishment when it was discovered that the wooden pole was rotten!