Dymchurch Martello Tower
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
In 1803 Captain William Ford proposed a plan to erect a series of small artillery towers along the south and east coast of England in an attempt to counter the threat of an invasion by Napoleon. Ford was inspired by the French round tower at Mortella Pont on Corsica, ironically the birthplace of Napoleon himself. In 1804 the plan gained approval from William Pitt's government, and construction began the following year.
The Dymchurch tower was just one of 103 round towers built along the coast, and one of 6 built in Dymchurch itself. The tower design is very simple; it is 2 storeys high, with a basement and a gun platform on the roof. The basement level holds a water tank and food storage, while gunpowder and other supplies are on the ground floor. Quarters for officers and men occupy the first floor. There is a very clever drain system on the roof that feeds rainwater directly into the water storage cistern in the basement.
The gun platform supported a 24-pounder muzzle-loading gun. The gun could be turned a full 360 degrees, using ropes, but to operate the gun took a team of 10-14 men. The gun could fire round shot with a range of up to a mile. The garrison quarters theoretically could hold up to 24 men, but it would have been incredibly cramped if all 24 were there at once.
The French invasion under Napoleon never materialised, so the effectiveness of the Martello towers was never tested in battle. After the French defeat at Waterloo, many of the towers were used by the Coastguard to control smuggling. Once that threat, in turn, died down, some were simply allowed to decay, some were sold into private hands. Many of the latter are used as private dwellings today, including tower number 23, just north of Dymchurch on the Hythe road.
The exterior can be viewed at any time, but as of this writing, the interior is unfortunately only accessible by appointment.
About Dymchurch Martello Tower
Address: Hythe Road, Dymchurch, Kent, England, TN29 0TJ
Attraction Type: Historic Building
Location: Access from Dymchurch High Street
Website: Dymchurch Martello Tower
English Heritage - see also: English Heritage memberships (official website)
OS: TR102 294
Photo Credit: Oast House Archive, licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway - 3.3 miles (Family Attraction)
Westenhanger Castle and Barns - 5.1 miles (Castle)
Brabourne, St Mary's Church - 7.7 miles (Historic Church)
Dungeness Old Lighthouse - 7.9 miles (Historic Building)
Fairfield, St Thomas Becket Church - 8.6 miles (Historic Church)
Horne's Place Chapel - 9 miles (Historic Building)
Willesborough Windmill - 9 miles (Historic Building)
Brook, St Mary's Church - 9.5 miles (Historic Church)
Nearest Accommodation to Dymchurch Martello Tower:
Nearest Self Catering Cottages
Nearest Bed and Breakfasts
Nearest Tourist Information Centre ('as the crow flies')
1-2 Guildhall Street
Tel: 01303 258 946