Orfordness lighthouse was designed by William Wilkins (senior) whose son of the same name was a significant Greek revival architect in London and Cambridge (UCL, National Gallery). It was built in 1792 by Lord Breybrooke, the owner of Audley End and treasurer to James I. The 30m high structure was built as a commercial project as passing ships (usually carrying coal from mines in the north east to Ipswich) paid a fee when they docked.
Until 1965, the lighthouse was manned by resident lighthouse keepers, with their families living on site until 1938. Subsequently, the light was controlled remotely by Trinity House from Harwich until June 2013, when the lighthouse was decommissioned because of the encroaching sea.
It was then bought by the Orfordness Lighthouse Company Limited with a view to the public being allowed access during its final years. This was achieved by setting up a registered charity, the Orfordness Lighthouse Trust.
Having been demolished in 2020, it is planned that the lantern room and other artefacts will pass to the Orfordness Lighthouse Trust charity and, when funds are available, it is hoped that they will form the basis of a lighthouse memorial structure on land which has been earmarked on the other side of the Ness facing the Orford town quay.