“The World, according to the best geographers, is divided into Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Romney Marsh.”

Martello Tower No. 24

Martello Tower No. 24 in Dymchurch High Street was one of 74 towers built along the south coast between 1805 and 1812 to resist the threatened French invasion. 
Of the 74 Martello Towers built on the Kent and Sussex coast, Martello24 is considered to be the best surviving example, being closest to its original condition and it can be seen as it was when occupied by the military in 1806. It has been restored to its original design and contains replica gunpowder barrels, replica 'Brownbess' muskets and the original 24 pounder muzzle-loading cannon on the gun platform.

 

Visiting Martello Tower No.24
The tower is open every Saturday, Sunday
and BH 2 pm to 4 pm 
Repair works on the tower are planned to take place during the summer months.
Please telephone 01797 212507 to check the tower is open before visiting

Visits by appointment are available for 
groups at other times  Find out more

 

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Introduction

Dymchurch Martello Tower No. 24 is an example of a specialised type of coastal fortifications erected during the Napoleonic Wars to repel a feared enemy invasion. In 1804 French troops were known to be mustering at Boulogne with the object of crossing the Channel. Plans were made to place towers along likely invasion areas in Suffolk, Essex, Kent and East Sussex.

The Tower - Historical Description

The tower was made of about half a million bricks, and although they look round, they are in fact slightly eliptical. The walls were thicker on the side facing the sea, because that was where most enemy fire was expected to come from. The roundness and thickness of the walls was designed to
deflect cannon balls, which tests proved they could not penetrate. A round brick pillar rose through the centerof the tower to support the roof, on which a cannon on a rotating gun carriage could fire in all directions.

The design of the bomb-proof  towers was inspired by a fort in the Bay of Mortella in Corsica which had beaten off two British warships in 1794. By 1812 there were 74 such towers sited on the South Coast and a further 29 in Suffolk and Essex.


MartelloTower No.24 Today
Martello Tower No.24 Today (2017)

Some of them were placed in pairs to protect the gates of marsh sluices. Tower 24 at Dymchurch and its counterpart no 25 (now largely derelict) was an example of the latter type. 

The gun platform was on the top. Dymchurch tower reveals all the features of the original design. The basement was for storing ammunition, fuel and provisions and these supplies were separated from each other by wooden partitions. In addition the gunpowder barrels were placed in a specially ventilated recess.  

The design of the towers was simple with the seaward walls thicker than those to landward. A single entrance was placed at first floor level approached by a removable ladder. The only windows were small and high, facing inland.The risk of fire was avoided by protecting the necessary lantern with a glass plate. Ventilation ducts were provided to keep the stores dry. 

The first floor contained quarters for both officers and men although it is apparent that the full complement of 24 would have been very cramped. The gun platform housed a muzzle-loading 24-pounder cannon, weighing some 2½ tons, which could be turned through 360 degrees with the aid of ropes. It was worked by a team of 10 to 14 men using step-boards along each side. Such a gun could fire a solid or explosive round shot for over a mile.

The ingenuity of the design of Martello Towers was never put to the test since Nelson's defeat of the French fleet at Trafalgar in 1805 and Napoleon's decision to invade Russia removed the possibility of a French invasion.
Text Courtesy of English Heritage
For more detailed information, please see:

pdf icon Tour of Martello Tower No.24   
pdf Icon
  
Description of Martello Tower No. 24       
pdf Icon  Loading and Firing a Cannon 

Martello Tower No.24 is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade II Listed Building.

What Happened to the Tower?

With the end of the war with Napoleon in 1815, many of the Martello Towers were abandoned by the military but a renewed threat from France in 1830 and again in 1859 led to some of the towers being rearmed and then abandoned again.

With many of the other towers, Martello Tower No.24 was first used as a signal station. Then, from about 1819/20, it was taken over by the newly formed Royal Naval Coast Blockade Service in the 'war' against smuggling on Romney Marsh. As a Blockade Station, it was the headquarters to naval personnel comprising 1 Mate, 2 Petty Officers and 9 men. Some of them may have had their wives living with them. 

In 1831 the Coast Blockade was absorbed into The Coastguard Service, which came into operation in 1822 and the Coastguard continued to use the tower, together with their families, until c1875.


Artists impression of the inside of a Martello Tower      Artists impression of a Martello Tower (larger picture)        

During the Second World War, it was used to spot incoming aircraft and the V1 & V2 flying bombs. It was manned for a time by a Forward Observation party from 64 Field Regiment, RA based in the Dymchurch and New Romney area, 

It was left unused until 1959 when the tower was acquired from the War Office by the Ministry of Works. when it was no longer required by the Coastguard. It was restored to its original state and opened to visitors as a museum in 1969. Today it is in the care of English Heritage and opens to visitors at weekends during the summer months.

Sir Walter Scott, the Scottish historical novelist, playwright and poet, described Martello Towers in the first chapter of his novel "Peveril of the Peak":
...built ... in such a fashion as if he had intended it, as an Irishman said of the Martello Towers, for the sole purpose of puzzling posterity

Visiting Martello Tower 24

Martello Tower No. 24 is located in Dymchurch, just off the High Street. The tower is open to the public by the Friends of Martello 24 every
              Saturday, Sunday and BH 2 pm to 4 pm 
                         6 April to 27 October 2019   

Map Icon Location Map & Directions High Street, Dymchurch TN29 0NU 


The exterior is available to view any reasonable time during daylight hours. 



Plan of a typical Martello Tower
Plan of a typical Martello Tower  Find out more

Entry to the tower is free but as a charity, the Friends of Martello24 are dependent on donations and these are always appreciated.

NB Access to the tower is by a metal staircase to the first floor, and once inside, access to the roof/gun platform and to the ground floor is by very steep stairs. Thus the tower is not particularly suitable for people with mobility problems (see pictures ). There are no facilities inside the tower.

Bespoke Visits for Groups

Outside of the public opening hours, bespoke visits by appointment are available for recognised groups comprising of more than 10 people eg History Societies, WI, Schools, Scouts & Girl Guides etc. Find out more

If your group would like to arrange a visit, please email Peter Email Icon Friends of Martello24.


Inside the Tower

        Section of the inside of a Martello Tower
       Section through a Martello Tower

    Cinque Ports Volunteers
Cinque Ports Volunteers 
  Soldiers of the period who would have manned the towers

Muskets in their rack
'Brown Bess' Muskets in their rack on the first floor

Part of the Ground Floor
Part of the Ground Floor

Stairs to the Roof
Stairs to the Roof

Cannon on the Roof
Cannon on the Roof

Friends of Martello24

Friends of Martello24 has been set up as a charitable organisation to work with English Heritage to open Martello Tower No 24 to the public on a published regular basis.
Find out more

Right Icon More about Martello Towers

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Photo Galleries Martello Tower No.24

Photo Gallery - Present
 
scroll right and left and click on a picture to see it enlarged in a slideshow 

Photo Gallery - Aerial
 scroll right and left and ​click on a picture to see it enlarged in a slideshow 

Photo Gallery - Past
 scroll right and left and ​click on a picture to see it enlarged in a slideshow 

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Video of Martello Tower No. 24

 

 

3D Virtual Historic Tour of a Martello Tower
Step back in time to see a Martello Tower as it would have it in the Napoleonic and Second World War eras.

 

 

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