Armada Beacon – Portslade, England - Atlas Obscura
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Portslade, England

Armada Beacon

This large torch on the Hove coastline helped Sir Francis Drake defend England from the Spanish fleet. 

It could be argued that if this beacon on the promenade of the small seaside town of Hove hadn’t been lit on that fateful day over 400 years ago, England might have become a Spanish territory.

In 1588, an army of 130 Spanish battleships known as the Spanish Armada set off from Flanders with the aim of invading England and overthrowing Queen Elizabeth I. When the fleet was spotted off the shore, a system of interlinking beacons were lit along the South Coast from Cornwall to London, to give warning of the arrival of the invading army.

This rudimentary but effective system meant that English sea captain Sir Francis Drake and his men had time to prepare defenses and gather weapons. Drake’s ships were able to stop the invasion and defeat the Spanish fleet before it could reach the English shore.

These historic signal beacons are visible throughout the Sussex coastline, but the towering torch in Hove is an easily overlooked landmark. A replica of the original now stands on the esplanade, with a distinctive fire-basket at the top. It was lit, along with the other beacons in the chain, in 1988 for the 400th anniversary of the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

Know Before You Go

The beacon is located near Hove Deep Sea Anglers.