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Martello tower no 7, Sandgate, Folkestone

A Scheduled Monument in Sandgate, Kent

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Latitude: 51.0749 / 51°4'29"N

Longitude: 1.1373 / 1°8'14"E

OS Eastings: 619866.487802

OS Northings: 135298.365879

OS Grid: TR198352

Mapcode National: GBR V0P.DCT

Mapcode Global: FRA F688.WCX

Entry Name: Martello tower no 7, Sandgate, Folkestone

Scheduled Date: 22 October 1974

Last Amended: 24 November 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017174

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32253

County: Kent

Civil Parish: Sandgate

Built-Up Area: Folkestone

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent


The monument includes a martello tower, set within a dry moat and outer
glacis, and situated above a steep, south facing slope overlooking Sandgate
and the sea beyond. The tower, which is Listed Grade II, is one of a cliff top
series of six moated towers, constructed in 1805-6 to defend the coastline
between Hythe and Folkestone, and lies around 360m south west of tower no 6.
The slightly elliptical, brick built tower measures up to 13m in diameter
externally and stands complete to its original height of about 10m. The upper
half of the tower protrudes above the lip of the stone retaining wall of the
moat, which encircles the base at a distance of around 10m and was intended to
provide further protection against both cannon fire and ground assault. Beyond
the moat, an earthen bank, or glacis, was constructed against the outer face
of the retaining wall, sloping away from the lip of the moat for a distance of
up to 20m, and a portion of this survives to the south. The tower was
constructed on three levels, with battered (inwardly sloping) walls, designed
to deflect cannon shot, ranging from around 1.6m to 4m in thickness, the most
substantial section being the wall base on the southern, seaward side. The
external face of the tower was rendered in a cement mortar, or stucco, which
served to strengthen the outer skin of bricks, and traces of this survive. A
thick central column rises from the basement to the top of the tower, from
which springs the barrel vaulted first floor ceiling which supports the gun
platform on the roof.
Access into the tower was by way of a first floor doorway to the north, which
was originally approached by a footbridge which spanned the moat. The section
nearest the tower was designed as a drawbridge, capable of being raised to
seal the entrance. The bridge does not survive, although part of the mechanism
used to raise it remains in place within the tower. The first floor was
divided into three rooms by wooden partitions and provided accommodation for
the garrison of 24 men and one officer. The partitions, along with the
suspended timber floor, have not survived although the two fireplaces which
heated the rooms, and the two splayed window openings to the east and west,
The ground floor was reached by a trap door near the entrance, leading down
through the wooden floor. This was used to store ammunition and supplies, and
provision for these includes a vaulted magazine, partly recessed into the
thickness of the outer wall. The magazine was enlarged, and a smaller room
added, during later, 19th century refurbishments. Safety features included a
lantern window in the partition wall, separated from the magazine by a pane of
glass. Ammunition lift shafts, linking the gun emplacement to the ground floor
level, and air vents between the ground and first floors, were also inserted
into the thickness of the wall during later refurbishments.
The open gun platform is reached from the first floor by an internal stone
staircase constructed in the thickest part of the tower wall. The circular
roof space, designed to accommodate a 24-pounder cannon mounted on a wooden
traversing carriage, was subsequently sealed in asphalt but retains many of
its original features, including the central pivot and perimeter traversing
step. Four ammunition stores in the form of arched recesses, and a smaller
niche, thought to have housed a gunpowder flask and later modified to form the
head of a lift shaft, also survive within the parapet wall which encircles the
roof. Two brick stacks remain in place, on top of the parapet coping stones,
over the original chimney positions. The cannon, which had a range of around
1.5km and could be turned through 360 degrees, was operated by a series of
rope pulleys, and six iron hauling-rings, used for traversing and preparing
the cannon, were set into the parapet wall.
All modern fixtures and fittings, such as the modern danger signs and the
bricks used to seal the doorway are excluded from the scheduling, although the
structures to which they are attached are included. All modern fences are
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Martello towers are gun towers constructed to defend the vulnerable south
eastern coast of England against the threat of ship-borne invasion by
Napoleonic forces. Built as a systematic chain of defence in two phases,
between 1805-1810 along the coasts of East Sussex and Kent, and between 1808-
1812 along the coasts of Essex and Suffolk, the design of martello towers was
based on a fortified tower at Mortella Point in Corsica which had put up a
prolonged resistance to British forces in 1793. The towers take the form of
compact, free-standing circular buildings on three levels built of rendered
brick. The towers of the south coast were numbered 1-74 from east to west,
while those of the east coast were identified by a system of letters (A-Z, and
then AA-CC) from south to north.
Although they exhibit a marked uniformity of design, minor variations are
discernible between the southern and eastern groups and amongst individual
towers, due mainly to the practice of entrusting their construction to local
sub-contractors. Most southern towers are elliptical in plan, whilst the
eastern group are oval or cam-shaped externally, with axes at the base ranging
between 14.4m by 13.5m and 16.9m by 17.7m. All are circular internally, the
battered (inwardly sloping) walls of varying thicknesses, but with the
thickest section invariably facing the seaward side. Most stand to a height of
around 10m. Many martello towers are surrounded by dry moats originally
encircled by counterscarp banks, and/or have cunettes (narrower water
defences) situated at the foot of the tower wall. The ground floor was used
for storage, with accommodation for the garrison provided on the first floor,
and the main gun platform on the roof. The southern towers carried a single
24 pounder cannon, whilst the eastern line carried three guns (usually a 24
pounder cannon and two shorter guns or howitzers). Three large, circular ten-
gun towers known as redoubts were also constructed at particularly vulnerable
points, at Dymchurch, Eastbourne and Harwich. All three survive.
As the expected Napoleonic invasion attempt did not materialise, the defensive
strength of the martello tower system was never tested, and the tower design
was soon rendered obsolete by new developments in heavy artillery. Many were
abandoned and fell into decay or were demolished during the 19th century,
although some continued in use into the 20th century as signalling or
coastguard stations and a few saw use as look out points or gun emplacements
during the two World Wars. Of the original 74 towers on the south coast, 26
now survive, and of the 29 on the east coast, 17 now survive. Those which
survive well and display a diversity of original components are considered to
merit protection.

Martello tower no 7 survives well, and retains many of its original components
and associated features, such as a section of its glacis bank and part of its
drawbridge mechanism. When viewed as one of a series of six cliff top towers,
no 7 illustrates the strategically planned integration of the martello tower
system and provides a valuable insight into the defence of Britain during the
early 19th century.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Sutcliffe, S, Martello Towers, (1972)
Telling, RM, English Martello Towers: A Concise Guide, (1997)
Telling, R M, Handbook on Martello Towers, (1998)
The Conservation Practice, , South Coast Martello Towers - a report of survey, (1996)

Source: Historic England

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