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Oh, How We Mariners Love Lighthouses

I’m aware that lighthouses serve a practical purpose, where land and water collide, but symbolically, they offer a message of hope and determination when facing adversity.

Wolf Rock Lighthouse, Lands End, Cornwall, after 1870, Gibson & Sons, Scilly. The Mariners’ Museum, P0001.012-01-PL281.

There are times when the ocean is not the ocean-not blue, not even water, but some violent explosion of energy and danger: ferocity on a scale only gods can summon. It hurls itself at the island, sending spray right over the top of the lighthouse, biting pieces off the cliff. And the sound is a roaring of a beast whose anger knows no limits. Those are the nights the light is needed most. ― M. L. Stedman

Wolf Rock Lighthouse, Land’s End, Cornwall, after 1870, Gibson & Sons, Scilly. The Mariners’ Museum, P0001.012-01-PL279.

It’s because a lighthouse is two-faced, and this is how she feels each time she visits. A lighthouse is both an invitation and a warning. A lighthouse says Welcome home. But next to that, right after that, it also says Danger. ― Nathan Hill

Longships Lighthouse, Land’s End, Cornwall, 1898, Gibson & Sons, Scilly. The cargo ship Blue Jacket can be seen wrecked on the rocks. The Mariners’ Museum, P0001.012-01-PL294.

Knowing when and how to change course is important to success. Self-doubt is a lighthouse that will keep you from running aground. Don’t become shipwrecked on the rocks of time. Be willing to rethink your decisions and change course. ― Harley King

Godrevy Lighthouse, St. Ives Bay, Cornwall, 1922, Francis Frith & Co. The Mariners’ Museum, P0001.012-01-PL296.

Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining. Anne Lamott

Pendeen Lighthouse, Cornwall, 1908, Francis Frith & Co. The Mariners’ Museum, P0001.012-01-PL295.

By spreading knowledge you can live forever. You can be the lighthouse that guides people to safety; a light in the darkest of times. ― Zachariah Renfro

Newlyn Lighthouse, Cornwall, 1920, Francis Frith & Co. The Mariners’ Museum, P0001.012-01-PL299.

Lighthouses are endlessly suggestive signifiers of both human isolation and our ultimate connectedness to each other. ― Virginia Woolf

Godrevy Lighthouse, St. Ives Bay, Cornwall, 1890, Francis Frith & Co. The Mariners’ Museum, P0001.012-01-PL297.

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. ― Edith Wharton

Lizard Lighthouse, Cornwall, 1904, Francis Frith & Co. The Mariners’ Museum, P0001.012-01-PL300.

Don’t stand in the shadows of the past move into the LIGHT of the future. ― Syed Sharukh

Longships Lighthouse, Lands End, Cornwall, 1893, Francis Frith & Co. The Mariners’ Museum, P0001.012-01-PL292.

If you cannot change the course of a storm, be the lighthouse. ― Ronn Daigle

These photographs of British lighthouses were purchased for The Mariners’ Museum Collection in 1936 from Bertram M. Chambers, an admiral in the Royal Navy.

Francis Frith took up photography in the early 1850s and was one of the first to photograph in Egypt and the Middle East. He maintained a successful business throughout his life.

Gibson & Sons are best remembered for their photography of shipwrecks along the British coastline in the mid to late 19th century .


Daigle, Ronn. Accessed November 24, 2020,

Hill, Nathan. (2016). “The Nix,” New York, NY: Penguin Random House LLC.

King, Harley. Accessed November 24, 2020,

Lamott, Anne. (1994). “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life,” New York, NY: Pantheon Books.

Renfro, Zachariah. Accessed November 25, 2020,

Sharukh, Syed. Accessed November 23, 2020,

Stedman, M. (2012). “The Light Between Oceans,” New York, NY: Random House Australia.

Wharton, Edith. Accessed November 24, 2020,

Wolff, Virginia. Accessed November 24, 2020,

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