View Full Version : Archived: Martello Towers, Pevensey - July 09

29-07-2009, 08:56 PM
Martello Towers are fortifications that were built by the British Army for coastal defence during the nineteenth century. They were built all over the British Empire, from Ireland to Canada, and many survive to this day. The towers built along the coast of Kent and Sussex were the first to be built in England.

The name Martello (and the idea for the English towers) came from a circular stone tower built in Corsica, at Mortella Point. French troops occupied the island, and so Corsican patriots pleaded for British help to drive the French out. In 1794, two Royal Navy ships sailed close to the Mortella Tower to destroy it, but were themselves fired upon, suffering sixty casualties. The tower eventually had to be captured by the army, but its strength had impressed those whose efforts it had stoutly resisted for several days.

By 1803, Britain was at war with France again, and the army of Napoleon Bonaparte was camped at Boulogne, ready to launch an invasion across the English Channel. It was decided to build circular brick towers, each mounting a cannon on the roof, along the vulnerable coastlines of Sussex and Kent, a decision influenced by some of those who had been at Mortella Point some years earlier.

Prime Minister William Pitt was keen to build the towers, and construction went ahead from 1805-08, despite Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805 making a French invasion of England unlikely. Each tower cost in the region of 2000-3000 at the time, and great criticism of the government followed once the great invasion scare had died down.

Tower 60


Tower 61


Tower 62