A unique remnant from the Napoleonic era, the only surviving semaphore tower in Britain can be found next to the M25 and is having a free open weekend in June.

(c) Landmark Trust

It was once a cutting-edge building at the forefront of technology and design, a vital link in a signalling chain that transmitted semaphore messages from Admiralty House in London to Portsmouth Docks in just a few minutes. Once semaphores went the way of the Dodo, it was occupied as a home until the 1960s, and was badly damaged by fire in 1984, partially restored in 1989, but then given a full restoration by the Landmark Trust a couple of years ago.

The Landmark Trust restores old buildings and turns them into grand B&Bs that people can stay in, and they open a few each year for free – including the semaphore tower, with very good views across the local countryside. The open weekend will be an opportunity to see inside the restored tower and learn more about its history and restoration.

Admission is free and information sheets will be provided detailing the building’s history. You need to book a ticket for either Saturday 24th June or Sunday 25th June from here.

There are also open days at other buildings owned by the Landmark Trust, and details of those are here.

(c) Landmark Trust

Getting to Chatley Heath semaphore tower

If coming by car, there are a couple of car parks on Old Lane on the western side of the woods, and then walk through the woods to the tower.

If coming by public transport, the nearest stations are Cobham & Stoke d’Abernon or Effingham Junction. Both are then a 50-60 minute walk to the semaphore tower, although Effingham Junction is a bit quicker and looks to have the easier walk.

There are a few buses that get a bit of the way, but infrequent, only on Saturday, and not really much help frankly — I’d suggest it’s a countryside walk or if needed, then taxis are available from Cobham & Stoke d’Abernon station.


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One comment
  1. Wisley wanderer says:

    The 715 stops nearby at Wisley, a few hundred yards from the car park just off the A3.
    Wisley gardens has a minibus connection to Woking station, not sure of the current timing or frequency.
    The tower is well worth a visit, it’s useful to make yourself aware of surrounding hills/building etc.

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