Martello Towers in Sussex
There were 47 Martello Towers built along the East Sussex coast, from No.28 in Rye to No.74 in Seaford.
No.28 was the first Tower in Sussex, built on the west bank of the Rother and commanded the then entrance to the Harbour.
No.29 Tower was built 450 hundred yards to the west and was abandoned in 1809 when it was undermined by the sea.
Tower No. 30 still stands opposite the turning to Rye Harbour from New Winchelsea Road. It protected the sluices of the Brede and the Tillingham rivers.
There was no tower between 29 near Rye Harbour and no. 31 at Dog’s Hill. Winchelsea Beach. The area between was an expanse of undrained marsh and contained "great Morasses" so that towers were considered unnecessary. In 1804 the beach on which the reserve is sited was scarcely formed.
The stretch of farmland now lying on the seaward side of The Ridge and the Watch Houses, the Nook on the OS maps, was in 1804 a tidal inlet and an outlet from the "new" Rye Harbour at Winchelsea Beach which had been abandoned in 1787.
Towers Nos. 31 to 38 were built 600 yards apart from Dog's Hill to Cliff End. Sea erosion or demolition by the Royal Engineers has removed them all.
The positions of Towers Nos. 31 - 38 are well below the present Mean High Water Level. After the Napoleonic Wars the towers were occupied by personnel of the Coastal Blockade established to combat smuggling.
Census returns show that Towers Nos. 31-38 were occupied by Coast Guards and their families. In 1851 in Tower No. 32 there were two
families with a total of l3 children.
Towers 28. 31, 37 and 38 accommodated men of the Royal Artillery Coastal Battery, and Towers 32 and 34-36 were uninhabited. At the time of the 1871 Census Tower 28 still housed six men of the Royal Artillery and No.33 a Greenwich pensioner; in No.38 was a Sergeant of the Royal Artillery. By 1881, Coast Guards were housed in their own buildings.
Tower No.37 was used in 1886 for experiments with "protected" gunpowder which were fully reported with a picture in the Illustrated London News of 30th June.
In 1872 Towers Nos. 39 and 38 were used for experiments on the stability of gun-cotton. After the experiments, the two towers were blown up with 800lbs. of gunpowder in No.39 and 200lbs. of gun-cotton in No.38, a scene witnessed by hundreds of on-lookers.
Martello Tower 28 - Rye Harbour, Sussex
This Martello Tower is located in a moat and is known as the 'Enchantress Martello Tower'.
Martello Tower 29 - No longer standing, Rye, Sussex
Martello Tower 30 - Rye, Sussex
This Martello Tower is privately owned and has recently been stripped of vegetation revealing it to be in good condition.
Martello Towers 31-54 - No longer standing, Pett's Level, Bexhill and Cooden
Martello Tower 55 - Norman's Bay, Sussex
This Martello Tower is currently covered, so presumably is undergoing restoration
Martello Towers 56-59 - No longer standing, Norman's Bay & Pevensey Bay
Martello Tower 60 - Pevensey Bay, Sussex
This Martello Tower has been converted into a private dwelling in the standard style.
Martello Tower 61 - Pevensey Bay, Sussex
The brickwork on this Martello Tower has been replaced and it appears to now be a private dwelling
Martello Tower 62 - Pevensey Bay, Sussex
This Martello Tower stands inside a caravan park and has had an extension built onto the side. It is obviously used by the owners of the park.
Martello Tower 63 - No longer standing, Pevensey Bay, Sussex
Martello Tower 64 - Pevensey Bay, Sussex
The brickwork on this Martello Tower is in a poor state, a door has been added at ground level and remains padlocked. The Martello Tower was later used as a machine gun post and has emplacements on the roof and concrete embrasures where the windows used to be.
Martello Tower 65 - No longer standing, Pevensey Bay, Sussex
Martello Tower 66 - Eastbourne, Sussex
This Martello Tower is located on Langley Point, close to the Sovereign Harbour development. It was used by the Coastguard and has an observation room built on the roof, but is now empty.
Martello Towers 67-72 - No longer standing, Eastbourne, Sussex
Martello Tower 73 - 'The Wish Martello Tower', Eastbourne, Sussex
This Martello Tower is known as 'The Wish Martello Tower' and stands in a prominent location on Eastbourne seafront. The Martello Tower has had a colourful life, being used as a coastguard station, WW2 Battery Observation Post and housing various musuems. The ditch is now a public garden and is open, but unfortunately the Martello Tower itself is empty and sealed up.
Martello Tower 74 - Seaford, Sussex
This Martello Tower has been renovated and houses a museum. Part of the ditch has been covered to allow more space for the museum, the rest is an open seating area. There is a canon mounted on the roof.