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Monument details

HER Number:TR 23 NW 27
Type of record:Listed Building
Name:Martello Tower No.1

Summary

Martello tower No.1, one of three martello towers along the cliff top, in Wear Bay Road, and the easternmost group of this series. The round, three-storeyed towers were built in 1806 as gun-posts against a possible Napoleonic invasion, to plans by Colonel Twiss and Captain Ford. As long ago as 1873 the tower was described in a report on coastal defences as having defective brickwork, and it is now in poor condition. However, Folkestone Corporation, to whom it belongs, is about to start repair work. (mid 1970s.)


Grid Reference:TR 2410 3731
Map Sheet:TR23NW
Parish:FOLKESTONE, SHEPWAY, KENT

Monument Types

  • MARTELLO TOWER (Redundant 1815, Post Medieval to Modern - 1805 AD? to 2050 AD)
  • HOUSE (Modern - 1977 AD to 1977 AD (post))
Protected Status:Listed Building (II) 1392511: MARTELLO TOWER NO. 1; Scheduled Monument KENT 83a; Scheduled Monument 1005159: Two Martello towers, East Cliff, Folkestone: nos. 1 & 3

Full description

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(TR 24103732) Martello Tower (No.1) (NAT) (1)

Scheduled. (2)

Roofed and in fair condition. (3)

TR 24113733. Martello tower No.1 built in 1805. This first tower was on the two hundred foot high cliff above East Wear Bay. Twiss proposed that the escarps or steep banks already formed be improved and with open batteries behind them, and the first three towers, Martellos 1-3, added, the place would be secure. As long ago as 1873 the tower was described in a report on coastal defences as having defective brickwork, and it is now in poor condition. However, Folkestone Corporation, to whom it belongs, is about to start repair work. (4,5)

Martello tower No.1, one of three martello towers along the cliff top, in Wear Bay Road, and the easternmost group of this series. The round, three-storeyed towers were built in 1806 as gun-posts against a possible Napoleonic invasion, to plans by Colonel Twiss and Captain Ford. The name is taken from the Tonne Della Mortella on Corsica, which had resisted English attack in 1794. (6)

The outer rendering is missing and openings have been forced through at ground level. The original floor is missing. In the subsequent conversion to a residence several windows have been introduced and modifications made to the interior.(9)

Additional Information (7 - 8)

Listing Text:

737/0/10015 THE WARREN
08-APR-08 Martello Tower No. 1

GV II
Martello Tower No 1 stands on the cliffs 200 feet above East Wear Bay. One of a line of towers along the Kent and Sussex coasts, it was built in 1805-06 in response to the threat of invasion by France during the Napoleonic wars. Built of brick, its plan is externally slightly elliptical, with sides sloping inwards towards the top, but internally circular, with a massive central column. Martello tower walls generally vary in thickness around the circumference, with thicker walls facing the sea.

EXTERIOR: The exterior has been refaced with brick, with windows at first floor level, and door and windows inserted at ground floor level. Another floor is being added to the top of the tower: the circular breeze block wall, faced with brick, rises about 2m above the top of the tower. The new roof rests on a structure of steel girders supported on steel uprights set into the wall, which slope gently down from a central apex. The tower wall is regularly pierced by windows all round, which are narrower on the landward side of the tower, and wider on the seaward side because of its elliptical plan. The tower would originally have been entered at first floor level via a retractable ladder, where the original door opening survives, but access is now through the ground floor.

INTERIOR: All interior walls are brick, as is the massive central column (constrained on the first floor by seven steel bands). The ground floor space has been subdivided as part of the residential conversion. A wooden stair has been constructed to the first floor, and the timber floor which forms the ceiling to the ground floor has been reconstructed. The first floor also has unplastered brick walls, a central column and vaulted ceiling. An arched opening leads into a recess with a window, set in the thickness of the wall. The original stairway, also set into the thickness of the wall, gives access to the gun platform on the original roof. A brick parapet surmounted by stone surrounds the gun emplacement, above which the outer walls for the upper storey are being constructed. A concrete ledge or walkway below the parapet surrounds a slightly sunken concrete gun platform, with its racer, a curved grooved iron track to allow for the smooth turning of the gun carriage, and a surviving central circular gun pillar, into which also is cut a tracking groove. Set into the parapet at regular intervals are six blocks of stone holding restraining rings. The whole of the gun emplacement is to be preserved, covered over by the new floor. The top of a chimney appears above the parapet against the new wall.

HISTORY: The south coast Martello Towers were built in 1805-06 in response to the threat of invasion by France during the Napoleonic wars. The form of the towers had been inspired by a single circular tower at Cape Mortella, Corsica which the British Navy attacked in 1794 and proved difficult to take. Lines of martello towers were built along the Suffolk-Essex and Kent-Sussex coasts. Others were built in Scotland and Ireland. Towers were sited to protect possible invasion beaches and were located such that adjoining towers provided interlocking fields of fire. The towers continued in use through the early C19, becoming obsolete during the latter part of the century. Some were reused during World War II, with additions to the top. Little is known of the history of Tower No. 1 since the Napoleonic Wars. It was described as unoccupied and missing its outer brickwork in 1873, and although it may have been occupied during World War II, no alterations or additions were made to it at that time, and it was abandoned soon afterwards.

It was included in the Schedule of Ancient Monuments in 1949 with the other two towers above East Wear Bay as KE 83, Three Martello Towers, East Cliff. Scheduled Monument Consent for work to converts the tower to domestic use was granted in the 1980s, with permission for additional work granted in 2002.

SOURCES:
Monuments Protection Programme: Monument Class Description
Website: www.martello-towers.co.uk
Roberts, Paul, EH Conservation Statement: Martello Tower No. 28 Rye Harbour. Internal EH document 2003.
Smith, V, Front Line Kent, 2003 pp.46-47.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION DECISION: Martello Tower No. 1 is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* It is an early C19 structure, and is of national significance as forming part of a coastal defence system along the Kent and Sussex coasts at the time of the Napoleonic wars.
* Despite alterations and additions to the tower, its distinctive form and structure remain intact, and are indicative of its defensive function.
* It is of historical significance as one of only 26 that survive of the original line of 74 on the Kent and Sussex coasts, and forms part of a chain that demonstrates the national coastal defence strategy at the beginning of the C19.
* As a structure now in domestic use listing is a more appropriate form of designation than scheduling. (10)


<1> OS 50" 1956 (OS Card Reference). SKE48292.

<2> AM Eng & Wales 1961 59 (OS Card Reference). SKE33010.

<3> F1 CFW 24.04.64 (OS Card Reference). SKE42738.

<4> Handbook of Kent's Defences 1540-1945 1977 40 (D Bennett) (OS Card Reference). SKE43681.

<5> Martello Towers 1972 86 (S Sutcliffe) (OS Card Reference). SKE46556.

<6> Bldgs of Eng NE & E Kent 1980 327 (J Newman) (OS Card Reference). SKE37745.

<7> Field report for monument TR 23 NW 27 - April, 1964 (Bibliographic reference). SKE5612.

<8> Southern Water Services, 1993, Dover & Folkestone Wastewater Treatment scheme Environmental Statement (Unpublished document). SKE6815.

<9> Victor Smith and Andrew Saunders, 2001, Kent's Defence Heritage (Unpublished document). SKE6956.

<10> English Heritage, List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest (Map). SKE16160.

<10> Ordnance Survey, 1905-10, Ordnance Survey 1:2500 3rd edition: 1901-1912, 1908/1:2500 (Map). SWX11833.

<11> Ordnance Survey, 1928-1947, Ordnance Survey 1:2500 4th edition 1928-1947, 1938/1:2500 (Map). Ske12644.

<12> Ordnance Survey, 2009, OS MasterMap, 2009/MasterMap (Cartographic materials). SWX15710.

Sources and further reading

Cross-ref. Source description
<1>OS Card Reference: OS 50" 1956.
<2>OS Card Reference: AM Eng & Wales 1961 59.
<3>OS Card Reference: F1 CFW 24.04.64.
<4>OS Card Reference: Handbook of Kent's Defences 1540-1945 1977 40 (D Bennett).
<5>OS Card Reference: Martello Towers 1972 86 (S Sutcliffe).
<6>OS Card Reference: Bldgs of Eng NE & E Kent 1980 327 (J Newman).
<7>Bibliographic reference: Field report for monument TR 23 NW 27 - April, 1964.
<8>Unpublished document: Southern Water Services. 1993. Dover & Folkestone Wastewater Treatment scheme Environmental Statement.
<9>Unpublished document: Victor Smith and Andrew Saunders. 2001. Kent's Defence Heritage.
<10>Map: English Heritage. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.
<10>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1905-10. Ordnance Survey 1:2500 3rd edition: 1901-1912. 1:2500. 1908/1:2500.
<11>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1928-1947. Ordnance Survey 1:2500 4th edition 1928-1947. 1938/1:2500.
<12>Cartographic materials: Ordnance Survey. 2009. OS MasterMap. 2009/MasterMap.