Link to printer-friendly page

It should not be assumed that this site is publicly accessible and it may be on private property. Do not trespass.

Monument details

HER Number:TR 13 SW 20
Type of record:Monument
Name:Dymchurch Redoubt


A post medieval circular redoubt designed for eleven guns is located northeast of Dymchurch. It was built between 1798 and 1809. During the Second World War the redoubt was reconstructed for use as an emergency coastal battery. It was operational by 1942 and mounted two 6-inch guns. An associated battery observation post is located on the sea wall immediately to the west of the redoubt. Aerial photographs taken in the 1940s show the redoubt in use and surrounded by defensive barbed wire obstructions. The 19th century redoubt survives with Second World War emplacements intact and additional structures remain associated with post-war use as a military training facility. The redoubt is now used as a store.

Grid Reference:TR 1291 3213
Map Sheet:TR13SW

Monument Types

Protected Status:Scheduled Monument 1017352: DYMCHURCH REDOUBT

Full description

If you do not understand anything on this page please contact us.

[TR 12933213] Dymchurch Redoubt (NAT) (1) [TR 129321] Dymchurch Redoubt (2) Dymchurch Redoubt was one of the two redoubts constructed as part of the Martello Tower system between 1798 and 1809. A circular redoubt (see plan) surrounded by a brick revetted ditch and glacis. On the terraplein there are positions for eleven guns with the magazines and stores below. Now used as a store it was visited (3) in September 1984. Scheduled (3). (3,4) Dymchurch Redoubt built at the start of the sea wall. (5) Additional info (6)

From the National Heritage List for England:

The monument includes an early 19th century redoubt or circular fortification, set within a dry moat and outer glacis (sloping bank); additional World War II fortifications, including gun emplacements and observation posts survive, as do structures associated with the later 20th century use of the redoubt as a military training facility. It is situated at the head of the shingle beach on the western edge of the Hythe Ranges. The redoubt was constructed between 1804 and 1812, to support a defensive chain of 21 martello towers, guarding the coastline of Romney Marsh between Hythe in Kent and Rye in Sussex. It was specifically designed to help protect the Marshland sluices which emptied into the sea at Dymchurch, then the administrative centre for the Marsh. The circular redoubt is brick built, with granite and sandstone dressings, and was constructed on two levels. It measures up to around 68m in diameter externally, and stands to a height of about 12m. The sloping roof of the parapet wall, designed to deflect cannon shot, protrudes above the lip of the brick retaining wall of the moat, which encircles the redoubt at a distance of around 9m and was intended to protect it from bombardment and ground assault. Beyond the moat, an earthen bank, or glacis, was constructed against the outer face of the retaining wall, sloping away from the lip of the moat for a distance of up to 60m. This has been partly disturbed in places by past modern activities, including the construction of an access road to the north, and the concrete sea defences to the south. The first floor entrance to the north west is approached by a footbridge which originally spanned the moat on a series of stilt-like legs, and was capable of being collapsed in time of attack. This has been replaced by a steel bridge. The entrance passage leads directly onto the open gun platform, which is located at roof level behind the encircling parapet wall and overlooks the circular, central parade ground below. The gun platform was designed to accommodate ten 24-pounder cannons, with firing ranges of around 1.5km, mounted on wooden traversing carriages and positioned behind granite-dressed embrasures. Each emplacement was served by an expense magazine, in the form of an arched recess, which supported a firing step above, set into the adjacent merlons. Many original features of the gun platform are now concealed beneath asphalt and an array of superimposed structures added during World War II, including gun emplacements, observation posts and associated magazines and shelters. Modern radar scanning equipment is also installed, and in use, in the south eastern World War II gun emplacement. A double, external stone staircase, situated behind the entrance, leads down from the gun platform to the parade ground. A more direct link between the gun platform and the casemates below, was provided by three internal stone staircases, set within the thickness of the outer wall of the redoubt. The 24 vaulted, barrack casemates were arranged around the central parade ground and are interlinked, together with smaller, intervening chambers by a central walkway. They provided accommodation for up to 350 men and officers, as well as stores for ammunition and supplies. The water supply was held in rainwater collection cisterns, installed beneath the floors. The outer wall of each casemate is pierced by a small fan-light, and the inner wall opens directly onto the central parade ground. The casemates retain many of their original features, including hearths and ventilation shafts, and are largely unaffected by later alterations, although brick partitions were added to the casemates during the 20th century. More significant modifications were made to the outer wall of the parade ground during the later 20th century, to accommodate a military training facility. A mock street scene, constructed mostly of concrete panels, was attached to the surrounding structure by means of a steel frame, and associated structures include six breeze-block firing points and a control tower, built over the north western portion of the gun platform. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling, these are; the radar equipment and associated wiring installed in the south eastern gun emplacement, all modern fixtures and fittings, including components of the modern electricity and telephone systems, all modern materials and equipment stored within the redoubt and materials used to seal doors and windows, the surface of the modern access track, all modern fencing and the concrete surface on the south eastern edge of the glacis; the ground beneath, and/or the structures to which these features are attached is however included.
Three redoubts, or large coastal artillery forts, were built between 1804 and 1812, at Harwich, Dymchurch and Eastbourne, to provide garrisons of up to 350 men to supplement the contemporary martello towers, built as a systematic chain of defence along the coast between East Sussex and Suffolk. The redoubts are circular, brick built structures up to around 68m in diameter, and stand to a height of around 12m. They comprise 24 casemates (bomb proof vaulted chambers), built around a central, circular parade ground. These provided accommodation for the officers and men, as well as stores and a cook house. Above the casemates was an open gun platform with emplacements for ten 24- pounder cannons, each with its own adjacent expense magazine, which held shot and charges for immediate use. The redoubts were enclosed by dry moats, with an encircling glacis slope, designed to protect the fort in time of attack. However, the defensive strength of the martello tower system, and its associated redoubts, was never tested before the end of the Napoleonic War, soon after which the concept of the martello tower was rendered obsolete by developments in heavy artillery. Some of these fortifications continued in use into the 20th century as observation posts or gun emplacements during the two World Wars.

Despite extensive additions, particularly during the 20th century, the Dymchurch Redoubt survives well and displays a diversity of original components. Furthermore, when viewed as part of a wider defence network along this part of the coastline, the monument provides a significant insight into the strategic integration of the martello tower system in the defence of Britain during the 19th century. (7)

Additional bibliography (8-11)

<1> OS 1:10000 1972 (OS Card Reference). SKE48157.

<2> DOE (IAM) AMs Eng 2 1978 112 (OS Card Reference). SKE40688.

<3> DOE (IAM) Rec Form plan 3 11 86 (OS Card Reference). SKE40725.

<4> Handbook of Kent's Defences 1540-1945 1977 36 37 (D Bennett) (OS Card Reference). SKE43677.

<5> Martello Towers 1972 85 (S Sutcliffe) (OS Card Reference). SKE46555.

<6> Chris Blandford Associates, 1992, A259 Dymchurch to M20 (Junction 11) Stage 1 Heritage (Unpublished document). SKE6769.

<7> English Heritage, Register of Scheduled Monuments (Scheduling record). SKE16191.

<8> Fortress Study Group, 1975, Fort : the international journal of fortification and military architecture (Serial). SKE53649.

<9> Andrew Saunders and Victor Smith, 01/01/2000, Kent's Defence Heritage (Miscellaneous Material). SKE24108.

<10> Chris Blandford Associates, 1994, A259 Dymchurch to M20 (J11) Draft Brief for Archaeological Field Evaluation (Unpublished document). SKE6884.

<10> Dobinson, C., 2000, Twentieth century fortifications in England. Volume 6.1. Coast Artillery, 1900-1956 (Monograph). SWX23710.

<11> Chris Blandford Associates, 1994, A259 Dymchurch to M20 (J11) Draft Brief for Archaeological Field Evaluation (Unpublished document). SKe6884.

Sources and further reading

Cross-ref. Source description
<1>OS Card Reference: OS 1:10000 1972.
<2>OS Card Reference: DOE (IAM) AMs Eng 2 1978 112.
<3>OS Card Reference: DOE (IAM) Rec Form plan 3 11 86.
<4>OS Card Reference: Handbook of Kent's Defences 1540-1945 1977 36 37 (D Bennett).
<5>OS Card Reference: Martello Towers 1972 85 (S Sutcliffe).
<6>Unpublished document: Chris Blandford Associates. 1992. A259 Dymchurch to M20 (Junction 11) Stage 1 Heritage.
<7>XYScheduling record: English Heritage. Register of Scheduled Monuments. [Mapped feature: #623 battery, ]
<8>Serial: Fortress Study Group. 1975. Fort : the international journal of fortification and military architecture.
<9>Miscellaneous Material: Andrew Saunders and Victor Smith. 01/01/2000. Kent's Defence Heritage.
<10>Unpublished document: Chris Blandford Associates. 1994. A259 Dymchurch to M20 (J11) Draft Brief for Archaeological Field Evaluation.
<10>Monograph: Dobinson, C.. 2000. Twentieth century fortifications in England. Volume 6.1. Coast Artillery, 1900-1956.
<11>Unpublished document: Chris Blandford Associates. 1994. A259 Dymchurch to M20 (J11) Draft Brief for Archaeological Field Evaluation.