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Martello Towers

(1805AD - 1815AD )

A tower near RyeThe 74 Martello Towers along the coast of Kent and East Sussex were built as a defense against the threat of an invasion by the French under Napoleon. They are cylindrical structures approximately 30 ft tall with 13ft thick walls on the sea facing side and 8ft thick on the landward side.
On top of the tower was placed a 2.5 ton gun which could fire a 24 pound shot a mile out to sea.

The design for the Martello towers was copied from the defensive tower at Mortella Point in Corsica. During 1794 two British "Man of Wars" attacked the tower, and it was only taken after 2 days of fighting, and this was with the tower defended by only about 20 men. The navy was very impressed with the functionality that they recorded the tower's design and only failed to record the name correctly.

In 1804 with the threat of an invasion from the French under Napoleon looming, the navy carried out a survey from Beachy Head to Dover to find suitable locations for these towers. In 1805 the construction work commenced with the Dover to Rye towers, and the remaining towers were completed by 1809.

Each tower was a cylindrical construction, with 3 floors, a ground floor used to house provisions and ammunition. A first floor, which was where the only access via a heavily protected door was located, this was about 6 metres above the ground and accessed by a ladder which was pulled up into the structure. This first floor was where the garrison of an Officer and 24 soldiers had their living quarters. The third floor was the roof which was where the 2.5 ton gun and 2 carronades were located. The design was such that powder for the gun was pulled up via a hoist to the roof, through a trapdoor, which reduced the chances of flashback down into the magazine.

Converted into a house near Pevensey The defeat of Napoleon by Wellington at Waterloo on 18th June 1815 meant that these defenses were never used in anger, however the Revenue officers used these towers as look out points for smugglers . Today many of the buildings have been demolished or removed, and only a few remain, one or two being turned into homes.

Villages Referenced

Alfriston  -   (Smuggling and Ghosts)
Dymchurch  -   (The Romans and the sea wall)
Fairlight  -   (Firehills and Views)
Hailsham  -   (Ropes and Napoleon)
hastings Bulverhythe  -   (Landing place of the citizens)
Normans Bay  -   (Last Invasion in 1066)
Pevensey  -   (Ancient Roman Fortification)
Pevensey Bay  -   (Fishing and Martello Towers)
Rye Harbour  -   (Nature Reserve and unspoilt beaches)
Seaford  -   (The cormorants or shags)
Westham  -   (Enclosure for the Castle)

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