Martello Towers

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Martello Towers, or 'Martellos', were small defensive forts first built in the South East of England during the Napoleonic War between 1805 and 1808. They were built throughout the British Empire, in 5 different continents, during the first half of the 19th Century. 103 in total were built around Britain, after the South East, a large number can be found in Essex, Suffolk and in Ireland.

Martello towers were inspired by a round fortress at Mortella Point in Corsica (completed 1565). In 1794 two British warships for two days unsuccessfully attacked the tower at Mortella Point. This impressed the British who copied the design for the British Martello Towers.

TQ6402 : Martello Tower 64, Sovereign Harbour by Oast House Archive
The round structures followed a standard plan, though varied in size. A typical South East Martello would be about 45 ft* (13.7m) in diameter at base and up to 40ft* (12m) tall. The masonry walls were built of brick and rendered with lime mortar externally, and were up to 13ft thick. Inside there were two main floors, the lower floor housing supplies and a powder store, and the first floor the men's quarters and officer's quarters. A single Martello housed between 15 and 25 men; a garrison of up to 24 men and 1 officer. The internal floor area of both floors was 1300 sq ft.

Section through a Martello Tower image Oast House Archive

C6638 : Martello Tower by Kenneth  Allen
The entrance to the tower was between 10 and 20 feet (3.0 to 6.1m) above ground level to stop easy access by the enemy. Steps and walkways seen today will have been added for modern use.

TV4898 : Newhaven from the roof of Seaford Martello Tower by Kevin Gordon
On the flat parapet roof was mounted a cannon. The round shape of the building allowed it to rotate 360, able to defend all directions.

Some Martellos had a rain water collection system using the roof and top of the parapet walls to collect water for drinking, with drains leading to a water tank below the ground floor. Fire places and chimneys were also built into the walls.

TM4654 : Martello Tower, south of Aldeburgh, Suffolk by Peter Beaven
A number were moated for extra defence.

- *verification required


A large proportion of Martellos have been converted to dwellings, many of those with an additional roof added on top. A small number have been opened as museums.


Martello Tower grid square coverage map Copyright 2008 HunterExternal link

England - South East Coast

140 Martellos were built around Britain, over half of which can be found in the South East of England, where there are 74 lining the Kent and East Sussex coast between Seaford and Folkestone. None were ever used in combat during the Napoleonic War. Many have now been lost to the sea, or demolished due to being unsafe or to reuse the masonry, some were deliberately destroyed in training practice. One third still stand to this day, either laying empty or derelict, used as a museum, or converted to a home.

The 74 Martellos of the South East Coast.

PhotographTower NumberRegionTownGrid ReferenceNotes
TR2437 : Martello Tower number 1, Folkestone by Oast House ArchiveTower 1KentFolkestoneTR24093731Grade II listedExternal link
TR2336 : Martello Tower number 2, Folkestone by Oast House ArchiveTower 2KentFolkestoneTR23973698Converted to dwelling and holiday let. Grade II listedExternal link
TR2436 : Martello Tower number 3, Folkestone by Oast House ArchiveTower 3KentFolkestoneTR24063663
TR2135 : Martello Tower number 4, Folkestone by Oast House ArchiveTower 4KentFolkestoneTR21133536
TR2035 : Martello Tower 5 by Ashley FuggleTower 5KentCoolingeTR20773554in the grounds of the Folkestone School for Girls
TR2035 : Martello Tower number 6, Folkestone by Oast House ArchiveTower 6KentShorncliffeTR20223537Grade II listedExternal link
TR1935 : Martello Tower number 7, Folkestone by Oast House ArchiveTower 7KentSandgateTR19863530
TR1935 : Martello Tower number 8, Folkestone by Oast House ArchiveTower 8KentSandgateTR19413523Converted to home
TR1935 : Martello Tower number 9, Folkestone by Oast House ArchiveTower 9KentShorncliffeTR19023515
Tower 10KentHytheTR1734Demolished
Tower 11KentHytheTR1634Demolished
Tower 12KentHytheTR1634Demolished
TR1533 : Martello Tower number 13, Hythe by Oast House ArchiveTower 13KentHytheTR15873399Converted to home
TR1533 : Martello Tower number 14, Hythe by Oast House ArchiveTower 14KentHytheTR15493383
TR1533 : Martello Tower number 15, Hythe by Oast House ArchiveTower 15KentHytheTR15213369
Tower 16KentHytheTR149335Lost to sea
Tower 17KentHytheTR146334Demolished
Tower 18KentHytheTR143332Demolished
TR1332 : Martello Tower number 19, Hythe by Oast House ArchiveTower 19KentHytheTR13913291
Tower 20KentDymchurchTR137328Demolished
Tower 21KentDymchurchTR135326Demolished
Tower 22KentDymchurchTR116308Demolished
TR1130 : Martello Tower number 23, Dymchurch by Oast House ArchiveTower 23KentDymchurchTR113304Converted to home
TR1029 : Martello Tower number 24, Dymchurch by Oast House ArchiveTower 24KentDymchurchTR102292
TR1029 : Martello Tower number 25, Dymchurch by Oast House ArchiveTower 25KentDymchurchTR101290
Tower 26KentDymchurchTR093275Lost to sea
Tower 27KentDymchurchTR086270Demolished
TQ9418 : Martello Tower number 28, Rye Harbour by Oast House ArchiveTower 28East SussexRye HarbourTQ942188
Tower 29East SussexRye HarbourLost to sea
TQ9119 : Martello Tower number 30, Rye by Oast House ArchiveTower 30East SussexRyeTQ918199
Tower 31East SussexPett LevelTQ918161Lost to sea
Tower 32East SussexPett LevelTQ913155Lost to sea
Tower 33East SussexPett LevelTQ909152Lost to sea
Tower 34East SussexPett LevelTQ9014Lost to sea
Tower 35East SussexPett LevelTQ903146Lost to sea
Tower 36East SussexPett LevelTQ899142Lost to sea
Tower 37East SussexPett LevelDestroyed
Tower 38East SussexPett LevelDestroyed
Tower 39East SussexSt Leonard'sDestroyed
Tower 40East SussexSt Leonard'sDestroyed
Tower 41East SussexBulverhythe Demolished
Tower 42East SussexBulverhythe Lost to sea
Tower 43East SussexBulverhythe Lost to sea
Tower 44East SussexBexhillLost to sea
Tower 45East SussexBexhillDemolished
Tower 46East SussexBexhillDemolished
Tower 47East SussexBexhillWashed away to sea
Tower 48East SussexBexhillDemolished
Tower 49East SussexBexhillDestroyed
Tower 50East SussexCoodenTQ710065Lost to sea (assumed)
Tower 51East SussexCoodenLost to sea
Tower 52East SussexCoodenLost to sea
Tower 53East SussexCoodenLost to sea
Tower 54East SussexCoodenTQ687056Demolished
TQ6805 : Martello Tower Under Wraps by Kevin GordonTower 55East SussexNorman's BayTQ682053
Tower 56East SussexNorman's BayLost to sea
Tower 57East SussexPevensey BayLost to sea
Tower 58East SussexPevensey BayTQ664044Demolished
Tower 59East SussexPevensey BayTQ662043Demolished
TQ6503 : Martello Tower number 60, Pevensey Bay, East Sussex by Oast House ArchiveTower 60East SussexPevensey BayTQ658039Converted to home
TQ6503 : Martello Tower 61, Pevensey Bay by Kevin GordonTower 61East SussexPevensey BayTQ657038Converted to home
TQ6503 : Martello Tower number 62, Pevensey Bay by Oast House ArchiveTower 62East SussexPevensey BayTQ651031 Converted to home, now empty
Tower 63East SussexPevensey BayTQ649027Demolished
TQ6402 : Martello Tower 64 by Oast House ArchiveTower 64East SussexSovereign HarbourTQ647022
Tower 65East SussexPevenseyTQ645016Lost to sea
TQ6401 : Martello Tower number 66, Sovereign Harbour by Oast House ArchiveTower 66East SussexSovereign HarbourTQ644013
Tower 67East SussexEastbourneTQ644012Fate unknown
Tower 68East SussexLangneyTQ628016Demolished
Tower 69East SussexEastbourne Fate unknown
Tower 70East SussexEastbourneTQ646006Fate unknown
Tower 71East SussexEastbourneTQ633004Fate unknown
Tower 72East SussexEastbourneTQ627001Fate unknown
TV6198 : Martello Tower number 73, The Wish Tower, Eastbourne by Oast House ArchiveTower 73East SussexEastbourneTV613982
TV4898 : Martello Tower number 74, Seaford by Oast House ArchiveTower 74East SussexSeafordTV485985

Related buildings

PhotographRegionBuildingsGrid ReferenceNotes
TR2035 : Sandgate Castle by Oast House ArchiveKentSandgate castleTR206351Converted to home
TR1232 : Dymchurch Redoubt by Oast House ArchiveKentDymchurch RedoubtTR129322
TV6299 : The Redoubt military museum by Raymond KnapmanEast SussexEastbourne RedoubtTV623997
TQ2604 : Hove Deep Sea Anglers Club by Simon CareyHoveDeep Sea Anglers ClubTQ268045Martello inspired, built in 1990. Martello Towers were not built as far West as Hove.
TQ8976 : Grain Battery, Grain, Kent by RobIsle of GrainNumber 1, The ThamesTQ898760Military battery built 1855, similar in construction to Martellos

England - East Coast

29 were built between Aldeburgh and St Osyth Stone between 1808 and 1812 to protect Essex and Suffolk. A supporting fort, or Redoubt, was built at Harwich.

PhotographTower NumberRegionTownGrid ReferenceNotes
TM0815 : Martello Tower at Point Clear by OxymanTower AEssex St Osyth TM083156Grade II listedExternal link Museum
Tower BEssexSt OsythConverted to home then demolished 1967
TM1312 : Martello Tower at Jaywick, Essex by Robert EdwardsTower CEssexJaywick TM136127Grade II listedExternal link
TM1613 : Martello Tower, Near Jaywick, Clacton-on-Sea by Steven Muster Tower DEssexClacton TM161133Grade II listedExternal link (Tower 3)
TM1613 : Martello Tower at Clacton-on-Sea, Essex by Robert EdwardsTower EEssexClacton TM167137Grade II listedExternal link (Tower 2)
TM1714 : Martello Makeover by Glyn BakerTower FEssexClacton TM172142Converted to restaurant (Tower 8). Grade II listedExternal link
Tower GEssexHolland MarshesDemolished 1819
Tower HEssexHolland MarshesDemolished 1819
Tower IEssexHolland MarshesDemolished 1819
Tower JEssexWalton CliffsDemolished
TM2522 : Walton-on-the-Naze: Martello Tower by Nigel CoxTower KEssex Walton TM251220Grade II listedExternal link
TM2433 : Martello Tower, Shotley by Humphrey BoltonTower LSuffolkShotley TM248336Grade II listedExternal link
TM2534 : Water tower at Shotley Gate by OxymoronTower MSuffolkShotley TM251341 Grade II listedExternal link
awaiting imageTower NSuffolkWalton Ferry, 'The Dooley Fort' TM2833Now under the dock
Tower OSuffolkFelixstowe TM282312Lost to sea 1800s
TM2933 : Martello Tower P by Bob JonesTower PSuffolkFelixstowe TM292330Converted to coastguard Lookout, now unused. Originally moated
TM2934 : Converted Martello Tower by Tim MarchantTower QSuffolkFelixstowe TM299342Converted to home (Tower 14). Grade II listedExternal link
awaiting imageTower RSuffolkFelixstowe TM310347Part of foundations of the Bartlett Hospital. Grade II* listedExternal link
Tower SSuffolkFelixstowe TM3134Lost to sea 1830s
TM3236 : Martello Tower by Richard RiceTower TSuffolkFelixstowe TM326366Golf Club store. Grade II listedExternal link
TM3237 : Martello Tower by Keith EvansTower U SuffolkFelixstowe FerryTM328373Converted to home. Grade II listedExternal link
Tower V SuffolkBawdseyDestroyed 1819, remains in garden
TM3539 : Martello tower near East Lane by Patrick MackieTower WSuffolkBawdsey TM355397Converted to home Grade II listedExternal link
Tower XSuffolkBawdsey TM357400Demolished late 1800's
TM3541 : Martello Tower with not-quite-original features added. by Jon HopkinsTower YSuffolkBawdseyTM358410Converted to home Grade II listedExternal link
TM3641 : Martello Tower with added Pillbox by Jon HopkinsTower ZSuffolkAlderton TM361419Grade II listedExternal link
TM3642 : Martello Tower AA by Steve PoppleTower AASuffolkShingle Street TM365425 Converted to home. Grade II listedExternal link
Tower BBSuffolkRiver Ore TM3743Demolished 1822
TM4654 : Martello Tower south of Aldeburgh by Brendan RoutledgeTower CCSuffolkSlaughden, Aldeburgh TM462549The largest Martello tower built. Constructed in a unique clover leaf form; effectively four towers joined together. Grade II* listedExternal link

Related buildings

PhotographRegionBuildingsGrid ReferenceNotes
TM2632 : The Redoubt Fort, Harwich by John WelfordEssexHarwich Redoubt TM26153215Grade II* listedExternal link


Three Martellos were built in Scotland.

PhotographTownGrid ReferenceNotes
NT2677 : The Martello Tower in Wasteland by Sandy GemmillLeithNT26887775Built about 1807-1809. Now Laying empty on the breakwater surrounded by a port and industrial area.
ND3391 : Martello Tower at Hackness by Ian BruceHacknessND33839127Museum. Two were built at Hackness between 1813 and 1815
ND3293 : Martello Tower, near Longhope by Calum McRobertsCracknessND32439344


Section still being developed.

About 50 Martellos were built in Ireland.

Some of those that appear on Geograph

PhotographTower NameTownGrid ReferenceNotes
awaiting imageAchill Island
S8003 : Martello tower at Baginbun by Paul O'FarrellBaginbun S8003
W7970 : Martello Tower, Belvelly Townland by Mac McCarronBelvelly Townland W7970
awaiting imageBanagher
awaiting imageBray
awaiting imageBulloch Harbour
B7108 : Lookout post of the Coast Watching Service at Crohy Head, Co Donegal by John MartinCo Donegal B707085
C6638 : Martello Tower by Kenneth  Allen C660388
awaiting imageDalkey Island
O0974 : Cannon fire at Millmount, Drogheda by Kieran CampbellDrogheda O09027479
M2411 : Martello Tower - Finavarra Point, Rine Townland by Mac McCarronFinavarra Point M24021164
awaiting imageFota Island, Cork Harbour
awaiting imageHowth
awaiting imageIlnacullin
O2839 : Martello Tower on Ireland Eye by sarah gallagherIreland's Eye O281414
O2345 : Hick's Tower, Malahide, Co. Dublin by Peter GerkenHick's TowerMalahideO238458
O2840 : Ireland's Eye: the martello tower on the western side by Keith SalvesenHowth O2840
awaiting imageLambay Island
O2756 : Martello Tower by Mark DuncanLoughshinny O275563
O2229 : Monkstown Martello Tower by Raymond OkonskiMonkstown O228291
O2444 : Martello Tower, Portmarnock by Ian PatersonPortmarnock O248445
awaiting imageRathmullan
O2528 : Sandycove, Dublin by RossographerJames Joyce's Martello towerSandycove O258281
O2561 : Martello Tower at Skerries, north County Dublin by sarah gallagherSkerries O257610
L9523 : Tóin an Chnoic (Tonacrick) by Graham HornTonacrick L958238
O1932 : Martello Tower on Sandymount Strand by Doug LeeSandymount Strand O19523203
awaiting imageSeapoint
awaiting imageShenick Island
awaiting imageSutton
awaiting imageWilliamstown


PhotographTower NameTownGrid ReferenceNotes
SM9603 : Martello Tower, Pembroke Dock by Garth NewtonThe Gun TowerPembroke DockSM96400383Not a typical round Martello.

Channel Islands

Noirmont TowerExternal link

Publicly visit-able

England - South East
TV4898 : Martello Tower number 74, Esplanade, Seaford by Oast House Archive TV6198 : Martello Tower number 73, The Wish Tower, Eastbourne by Oast House Archive TR1029 : Martello 24 by Steve Ward

England - East
TM0815 : Martello Tower at Point Clear by Oxyman TM1714 : Martello Makeover by Glyn Baker

ND3391 : Martello Tower at Hackness by Ian Bruce

Further reading

Geograph; Martello Tower Category
WikipediaExternal link

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