Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Sovereign Harbour and Martello Towers

A couple of weeks ago we had a short stay at Sovereign Harbour in Eastbourne. Sadly it was for work not play but walking Mortimer did mean an opportunity for some photographs and a delve into the area's history.

Sovereign Harbour is a huge marina development started in 1993 and to a degree still continuing. Tucked between Eastbourne town and Pevensey Bay, on an area originally known as The Crumbles and owned by the Chatsworth Trust, the site now has four separate harbours. The marina can be accessed from Outer Harbour through twin sea locks to the calm of the marina development.

A view of the lock and the resident RNLI lifeboat
Although there are a few 'gin palaces' and 'plastic fantastics'

Pleasure boats and penthouse apartments
there is also a small but very active fishing fleet.

Crab pots
In contrast to all the new houses and apartments are two Martello towers, part of a chain that run along the south coast. There is a wide shingle beach, often empty, and one tower sits here. Unused for many years it still stands, despite being built during the French Revolutionary Wars to keep Napoleon from our shores.

Martello tower - spot the next one in the chain

These small defensive forts were built throughout the British empire. Their curved walls and thick masonry were meant to resist cannon fire. The flat roof acted as a platform for a single, moveable piece of artillery that could cover 360 degrees.

The sea facing side takes the brunt of the weather
The second tower, at the entrance to Outer Harbour, is used. Not the building as such but the roof holds communication and navigational aids.

Here you can see how close the forts were built.

The two towers
Many martellos have new uses. The one at Pevensey Bay, about a mile or so east, is used as a social club for the village. Many have been turned into homes and The Landmark Trust have restored one for holiday rental.

Calm seas


  1. I've always thought the history of Martello Towers a fascinating one, so thank you for that. But best of all, I love that last shot of yours. Perfect peace. Wonderful.

    1. They are intriguing - I love the fact that although battered they are still remarkably well preserved. The new builds however seem to have scaffolding permanently attached!
      Thanks for your comment on the photograph - it's a bit of a cliché shot but relaxing to look at.

  2. I'm with Margaret, that last photo is incredibly soothing :)

    1. Thank you! I'm thinking of enlarging a copy and having it on the bedroom wall.

  3. This looks beautiful!!!
    Melanie @