I've been fascinated by these Towers since, as a teenager, I stayed with a friend at his parents holiday home at ST Mary's Bay. We'd pass one on the way into Dymchurch in the evening to go to the amusement arcade. The idea for these towers came from a British Naval attack on Mortella Point in Corsica in 1794. Here a tower with just 38 men and three guns resisted an attack by two RN ships, and was only taken b the army after two day fighting.
The name Martello probably comes from watch towers in Western Italy called ‘Torri de Martello', or from a corruption of Mortella Point. There were 74 built in Kent and Sussex between 1805 and 1808 to guard against invasion by Napoleon. The were spaced along the coast from Folkestone to Seaford, and are numbered 1-74 on an interesting site about these historic buildings. The one above is number 14. Located on the beach in the Hythe army firing ranges. The letter ‘A’ was painted on the side of the tower at one time, signifying the range that the tower is located within.
Unfortunately the ranges were firing this afternoon so I couldn't walk along the beach for a closer look.
In the distance No 15 can be seen. It too is located in the Hythe army firing ranges. The letter ‘D’ was painted on the side of the tower at one point, signifying the range that the tower is located within.
This is the tower we used to walk past, on our way from St Mary's Bay into Dymchurch. It is number 25 and was twinned with no 24 and they were built to guard the Marshland Sluice. No 24 has been fully restored and is now open to the public as an English Heritage museum.
On the Hythe side of Dymchurch number 23 stands by the main road. It was built to protect the Willop Sluice in Hythe Road, paired with No.22 but No.22 was destroyed to make way for road widening. This tower has been restored and is used as a residence.
The towers were never used as a defence at Napoleon but others were built round the British coast, around 140 in total. In addition others were built as far afield as Australia, South Africa, Canada and Sri Lanka.