- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- East Sussex
- Eastbourne (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- TV 62287 99686
Reasons for Designation
Three redoubts, or large coastal artillery forts, were built between 1804 and
1812, at Harwich, Dymchurch and Eastbourne, to provide garrisons of up to 350
men to supplement the contemporary martello towers, which were built as a
systematic chain of defence along the coast between East Sussex and Suffolk.
The redoubts are circular, brick built structures up to around 68m in
diameter, and stand to a height of around 12m. They comprise 24 casemates
(bomb proof vaulted chambers), built around a central, circular parade ground.
These provided accommodation for the officers and men, as well as stores and a
cook house. Above the casemates was the open gun platform, with emplacements
for ten 24-pounder cannons, each with an adjacent expense magazine which held
the shot and charges for immediate use.
The redoubts were enclosed by dry moats, with an encircling glacis slope,
designed to protect the fort in time of attack. Five small structures, or
caponiers, were constructed in the moat at this redoubt, intended to repel
enemy forces. However, the defensive strength of the martello tower system,
and its associated redoubts, was never tested before the end of the Napoleonic
War, soon after which, the concept of the martello tower was rendered obsolete
by developments in heavy artillery. Some of these fortifications continued in
use into the 20th century as observation posts or gun emplacements during the
two World Wars.
The Eastbourne Redoubt survives well, and displays a wide range of original components and associated features. Furthermore, when viewed as part of a wider defence network along this part of the coastline, the monument provides a significant insight into the stategic integration of the martello tower system in the defence of Britain during the 19th century.
The monument includes an early 19th century redoubt or circular fortification,
set within a dry moat and outer glacis (sloping bank), situated at the head of
a shingle beach to the north east of Eastbourne Pier. The redoubt was
constructed between 1804 and 1812, to support the defensive chain of martello
towers, guarding the coastline at Pevensey Bay and Eastbourne. It is a Listed
Building Grade II.
The circular redoubt is brick built, with granite and sandstone dressings, and was constructed on two levels. It measures up to around 68m in diameter externally, and stands to a height of about 12m. The sloping roof of the parapet wall, designed to deflect cannon shot, protrudes above the lip of the brick retaining wall of the moat, which encircles the redoubt at a distance of about 9m and was intended to protect it from bombardment and ground assault. The moat contains five small structures, or caponiers, carefully designed to inflict enfilade fire on attackers who entered the moat. The south eastern section of the moat, between two caponiers, has been reduced in height and infilled, during past modern construction of the promenade, and a portion of the moat in the south west was levelled for construction of a colonnade behind the former bandstand, now in use as tea rooms.
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 around 40m. The glacis has been mostly levelled by past modern construction of buildings and access tracks, although a section of the glacis survives on the north western side of the redoubt. An 1887 plan of the redoubt shows a revetted, south eastern slope of the glacis, extending into the inter-tidal zone of the beach. This section of the glacis has been disturbed by various phases in the construction of the promenade, although traces of its retaining wall may survive beneath the shingle beach. This area is not included in the scheduling.
Access into the redoubt is by way of the original first floor entrance on the landward side, approached by a modern footbridge which spans the moat. The section of the original footbridge nearest the redoubt was capable of being collapsed in times of attack. The entrance passage leads directly onto the open gun platform, which is located at roof level, behind the encircling parapet wall and overlooks the circular, central parade ground below. The gun platform was designed to accommodate ten 24-pounder cannons, with firing ranges of around 1.5km, mounted on wooden traversing carriages and positioned behind granite dressed embrasures. Each emplacement was served by an expense magazine, in the form of an arched recess, supporting a firing step above, set into the adjacent merlons. The gun platform retains many of its original features, including the iron running rails and hauling rings used in the operation of the guns. Later ordnance, including a 32-pounder cannon, mounted on a replica traversing carriage, have been installed in some of the emplacements.
A double, external stone staircase, leads down to the central parade ground from the gun platform behind the entrance. A more direct link between the gun platform and casemates below, was provided by three internal stone staircases, set within the thickness of the outer wall of the redoubt. The 24 vaulted, barrack casemates are arranged around the central parade ground, and are interlinked, together with smaller, intervening chambers, by a central walkway. They provided accommodation for up to 350 men and officers, as well as stores for ammunition and supplies. The outer wall of each casemate is pierced by a small fan-light, and the inner wall opens directly onto the central parade ground. The casemates retain many of their original features, including hearths, ventilation shafts, and rainwater collection cisterns below the floors. Later alterations to the casemates include a new, seafront entrance to the redoubt, inserted through the rear wall of a south western casemate during the 1950s, when a model village was constructed in the moat. Extensive remains of a modern, disused aquarium occupy five of the south western casemates, the remaining chambers house a military museum.
The redoubt was reused at different stages during World War I and II, as a convalescent hospital, a base for Canadian troops prior to the Dieppe Raid and D-Day landings, and as an anti-aircraft gun emplacement.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the remains of the modern aquarium, the Centurion tank set into the northern edge of the glacis, anchors, benches, lamps, surfaces of all modern paths and steps, fences and hand rails, all modern structures to the south, south west and north east of the redoubt, the modern stage within the parade ground, all modern fixtures, fittings, museum displays, all components of the modern plumbing and electrical systems within the tower, the tea rooms on the south western edge of the redoubt and the three other modern structures attached to the moat wall in the south and north east; the ground beneath and/or the structures to which these features are attached are however included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Callaghan, R, Moss, M, Redoubt Fortress, Eastbourne - The History 1804-1995, (1995)
Guise, S, The Great Redoubt, (1979)
The Conservation Practice, , South Coast Martello Towers - a report of survey, (1996)
Title: Block Plan Source Date: 1887 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing