Trinity House

A guided afternoon visit to this Corporation governed under Royal Charter. Best known for the navigational aids around the coast, Trinity House is also a deep-sea pilotage authority and a maritime charity, dispensing funds for retired or disabled seamen, the training of cadets and the promotion of safety at sea.

The Corporation of Trinity House of Deptford Strond, known as Trinity House, is a private corporation governed under a Royal Charter since 1514. It was the poor conduct of unregulated pilots on the Thames which prompted a petition for them to be licensed. Accordingly a Royal Charter for their regulation was granted by Henry VIII to “The Master, Wardens, and Assistants of the Guild, Fraternity, or Brotherhood of the most glorious and undivided Trinity, and of St Clement in the Parish of Deptford Strond in the County of Kent.” (St Clement is one of the patron saints of mariners.)

Elizabeth I expanded Trinity House’s role by the 1566 Seamarks Act which authorised the erection of “… beacons, marks, and signs for the sea … whereby the dangers may be avoided and escaped, and ships the better come into their ports without peril.” It is for navigational aids around the coasts of England, Wales, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar that Trinity House is best known, but it remains a deep-sea pilotage authority and is also a maritime charity, dispensing funds for retired or disabled seamen, the training of cadets and promotion of safety at sea.

The headquarters of the Corporation is the present Trinity House, which was designed by architect Samuel Wyatt and built in 1796. Behind the imposing neo-classical façade are some of London’s most elegant banqueting and conference rooms. The house enjoys a superb location overlooking the Tower of London and the River Thames.

Editor’s note : to mark the Trinity House quincentenary the National Maritime Museum London hosts a free exhibition: ‘Guiding Lights: 500 years of Trinity House and Safety at Sea’, until 4 January 2016. The gallery displays 70 rarely seen objects from Trinity House and the museum’s own collection, telling stories of the heroic and the extraordinary from throughout the organisation’s history as well as looking to its future.     Additional information can be found on the website, at www.trinityhouse.co.uk