The monument comprises the upstanding and buried remains of Martello Tower “L” constructed between 1808 and 1812, including its infilled moat and the remains of its defensive glacis.
Reasons for Designation
Martello Tower L, and the remains of its infilled moat and glacis, are scheduled for the following principal reasons:
* Period: The remains are representative of the Napoleonic Wars and the British response to the perceived threat of invasion;
* Rarity: it is one of only 18 surviving of the original chain of 29 east coast Martello towers, and this is one of only eight where the moat is still evident;
* Documentation: various studies and records have contributed to our understanding of the site and its continuous use into the C20;
* Survival: the monument survives well, with the tower largely intact and still containing some interior features. The full extent of the moat survives and will contain deposits of interest. Much of the glacis survives, and its original extent can clearly be read;
* Fragility: the remains are vulnerable to slow decay and vegetation growth;
* Potential: there is strong potential for the buried remains of the moat and the earthwork of the glacis to contain deposits retaining significant information on the construction of the tower, and on its function and role in the wider defensive landscape;
* Group value: it is part of an important group of defence structures at Shotley, including scheduled monuments Martello Tower “M”, (NHLE 1005994) and Shotley Battery (NHLE 1021290) and a number of listed buildings relating to HMS Ganges. It also forms part of the important chain of east coast Martello towers.
The Martello Towers are a series of small coastal artillery forts on the south and east coasts of England, built to counter the threat of invasion from France in the Napoleonic era (roughly 1799 to 1815). The proposal to build them was agreed in 1804. The south coast towers were constructed between 1805 and 1808 and the east coast towers between 1808 and 1812. Along the east coast there were originally 29 Martello towers built, stretching from St Osyth in Essex up to Aldeburgh in Suffolk. They were named after letters of the alphabet, starting with Martello “A” at St Osyth, and ending with “CC” at Aldeburgh (having started again at AA once they passed Z).
The east coast Martellos were larger than those in the south and allowed for three guns to be mounted on the roof. All of the towers had an associated parcel of land, of varying size, which was usually defined by either boundary marker stones or by a boundary ditch and bank.
Martello L and its nearest tower, Martello M, were built overlooking Harwich harbour on the North sea. They were constructed to work in tandem, supported by fortifications at Landguard. The Martello towers never saw active service. By 1818 with the end of the Napoleonic wars, Martello L was deemed redundant. It is understood that by 1853 all the Martello towers in the area had their guns removed, only Landguard Fort and a redoubt remained armed.
A plan dated 1854 shows the tower, the moat around the tower and drawbridge to the north-west. It also shows the triangular-shaped open, forward battery about 80m SSW of the tower.
In the early 1860s, the country underwent a vast programme of refortification, due to a perceived renewed threat from the French. Martello L (and the other nearby Martello Towers) were rearmed with a 68-pdr smooth-bore (SB) gun and two 8-inch SB guns to enhance the defences of Harwich. The detached battery was also reformed for three and four 68-pdr SB guns.
A plan dated 1863 shows a trefoil plan with the three guns on top of the tower, a flagstaff by the main entrance, and a bridge over the moat on the south-west side. To the south of the tower is a forward battery labelled “L Battery” with three positions for guns on traversing carriages as well as a buried magazine to the east, a store-room to the west and a bures shell room towards the centre.
In the 1860s a separate, larger battery at Shotley was also created, between Martello Towers L and M: around 240m to the north-east of Martello L, and around 100m south-west of Martello M.
By 1894 it appears the guns from Martello L and its battery had been disarmed, as they were not included in a list of defences of that date. A brick tower, housing a small water tower, was likely to have been added around this time.
The land around Martello L and the larger 1860s Shotley Battery was taken over by the Royal Naval Training Establishment (RNTE) Shotley from around 1902, and a hospital block was constructed to the south-east of Martello L as part of the first phase of development. Around this time a second, larger water tower and a signal station were positioned on top of Martello L. A plan from around this date shows the bridge on the north-east side still intact, so it is believed that the moat survived at this point. The basement storey of the Martello tower was filled in around this time, possibly to provide extra strength to support the water towers, and the moat is likely to have been filled in at the same time.
Other buildings went on to be constructed close to Martello L, including a signal school and lecture hall immediately to the south-west, and parts of the glacis were removed or levelled in the process. The RNTE, who had later renamed the establishment as HMS Ganges, left the site in 1976, and afterwards the police used the site for training.
In 2021, planning permission was granted for a mixed-use development including 285 dwellings on the site of the former HMS Ganges, outside the footprint of the scheduled monuments.
The monument comprises the upstanding, earthwork and buried remains of a Martello Tower including its filled-in moat, defensive glacis and its forward battery.
The Martello Tower
The most prominent feature surviving is the standing tower, constructed of brick rendered with roughcast, with rusticated stone dressings around the door, windows and recesses. The signal station on top is rendered brick and concrete.
Like the entire eastern group of Martello towers, the tower is a squat ovoid in plan, with an average diameter of around 17.5m. The gun deck has a quatrefoil plan as is usual for the east coast Martellos, though this is slightly obscured by the later structures surmounting it.
The tower stands to a height of about 7m (excluding the later structures - the water towers and signal station - surmounting it). The lower storey is buried underground and infilled. On top of the tower are two water towers, the larger approximately 7m in height, of brick with a metal tank, and a six-sided, two-storey, rendered brick and concrete signalling station with windows overlooking the seaward (south) side, and east and west.
The walls of the Martello tower are around 2.25m thick, but in two areas (to the west and the north-east) the thickness increases to allow for two curved staircases within the wall to provide access to the roof and gun deck.
There is a door with a segmental-arched head to the north-west in the position where the drawbridge would have been: a pair of openings remain, through which the drawbridge chains would have passed. Three other doorways (in the south, east and north-east) are all blocked. These are now close to ground level, but would originally have served as look-out points over the moat. On the south-western side a later door has been inserted to allow access to the staircase to the upper storey from outside (originally the stair would have only been accessed from inside).
The ground floor is a single space, although it is assumed that it was divided into three rooms as with the other east coast Martello towers. The north-eastern third is floored with flagstones, which also suggests that the space was divided. The flooring in the other area is earthen, presumably the flooring was removed when the basement was infilled. The area with the flagstones also contains partial remains of a cast-iron cooking range within the exterior wall.
There are two other openings in the south and the east with splayed jambs and a set of steps up to a loophole opening. There are also four separate openings within the walls believed to have been ventilation for the basement.
At the centre of the internal space is a cylindrical column approximately 1.6m in diameter, which fans out at the top into a vault to provide support for the gun deck on the roof.
In the vault, just inside the main entrance door is an iron hauling ring, thought to have been used to haul provisions or munitions to and from the basement, via a trapdoor.
The basement storey is infilled and inaccessible.
The upper floor was inaccessible at the time of survey (January 2022) but photography by Oxford Archaeology shows that the room beneath the water tower contains a C20 brick supporting-column for the water tower.
The Moat and Glacis
The infilled moat is clearly defined by a low brick wall which lines the moat around the circumference of the tower but following the infilling of the moat is now only visible as one or two courses above ground, and in some areas is buried. The glacis, a gently inclining slope, still survives: an irregularly shaped feature which includes a longer slope towards the southern side. In various areas the glacis has been cut away to allow for the construction of buildings in the C20 (most no longer extant). The longer slope of the glacis towards the south survives well, extending to approximately 68m south of the tower at its furthest extent.
To the south-east the site of the C20 hospital has cut into the glacis and will have disturbed any archaeological deposits, but part of the south-eastern sector of the glacis survives from the line of the moat, outwards to a radius of approximately 6.5m. Immediately east of the moat, the remains of another building have disturbed the glacis, but a small section remains just north of this. To the north-east, the glacis has been disturbed in another area where a building has cut away the slope and disturbed the archaeology, however this has exposed the original moat wall in this area. To the north and west the glacis survives to a radius of approximately 27m at its widest point until the standing buildings of the C20 signal station and lecture hall to the west have cut a section away.
Valuable archaeological deposits will be preserved in the undisturbed areas of the glacis; both within the structure of the glacis and on the buried land surface beneath the glacis. Archaeological evidence will also be retained in the fills of the moat.
The exact position of the forward battery has not been located.
EXTENT OF SCHEDULING
The scheduling includes the Martello tower itself, both above and below ground, and the remains of the infilled moat. The glacis is also included, except for areas where it is clear that it does not survive as shown on the attached map.