Secrets of the Pevensey Bay Martello Towers unveiled in book

Martello towers, Pevensey Bay
Martello towers, Pevensey Bay

A ‘continuous chain’ of Martello Towers once lined the coast of Pevensey Bay, according to a new book by author Michael Foley.

Mr Foley penned Martello Towers to provide a full history and photographs of the war time buildings, which were built to defend against Napolean’s forces.

More than a hundred were built along the coasts of Sussex, Kent, Essex and Suffolk and many of the half that remain have been turned into homes.

The book says Pevensey had about 15 towers, and a ship in the bay could be in range of around 15 guns at once.

A handful of towers still stand at Pevensey Bay but better known towers include Martello Tower in Seaford and the Wish Tower in Eastbourne.

The book details how Martello Towers proved controversial when they were built. The towers caused a differing of opinion between famous names such as Wellington, Nelson, Cobbett and Pitt.

And despite the fact the towers were built to defend against Napolean, they were not used until World War One and World War Two.

The towers in Pevensey Bay also have their own stories to tell.

In his book, Mr Foley says: “One of the towers in Pevensey Bay received a distinguished visitor shortly after its construction, when on 24 June 1805 the Duke of Cambridge reviewed the King’s German Legion, based at Bexhill. The following day he rode to ‘the Martello Tower’ that was being built in Pevensey Bay.”

Smuggler John Apps, from Witling, was also said to have been shot by a sailor from one of the Martello Towers in Pevensey Bay.

Some of the towers in Pevensey Bay have now been turned into residential homes.

Tower 60 was used by the coast guard in the early 19th century and owned by the War office and used for fire practice, Mr Foley says.

It then fell into decline until the Royal Observer Corps took over in the 1980s. Once they stopped using it, the tower was bought for £22,000 and renovated and made into a house.

To read more about the Martello Towers pick up Mr Foley’s book. It is illustrated with photos and prints showing the towers both in the past and present.

Martello Towers by Michael Foley is published by Amberley Publishing, Stroud, with a cover price of £14.99.

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