Orfordness Lighthouse was the first brick built lighthouse in the UK. The lighthouse was the high light of a leading light pair designed to show the safe passage into Orford Ness harbour. As the shingle banks shifted over time, so the position of the lower light was changed and as time went by, so did the appearance of the tall tower, receiving strengthening bands and different keepers' accommodation and sea defences over the 200 years of its existence. The attached cottages were demolished by 1960 when the light was automated and the tower itself was demolished in 2020 to ensure that no one was injured by a sudden collapse as a result of undermining by the sea.
The Ness itself was the location of an airfield starting during WW1 and from then until the end of the cold war was off-limits to the general public. Among other weapons, bouning bombs, tallboy bombs and the UK atomic bombs were test-dropped here