Martello towers along the coast at Langney Point, Pevensey Bay

Signed watercolour by William Westall ARA (1781–1850), comprising a panoramic view looking eastwards to Langney Point, possibly from the top of the next tower west towards Eastbourne, with a dozen Martello towers stretching along its eastern side and curving round toward Pevensey and Hastings, under a summer sky. There is no sign of military activity which suggests the drawing was done at some point after the end of the Napoleonic War but before the towers were either taken down or began to fall prey to the sea (the fate of many). This early image well demonstrates the way they were intended to work: that is, as interdependent fortifications along potential invasion beaches, with interlocking fields of fire from the 24-pounder gun each had on the roof, and musketry, against the invasion that Napoleon long threatened but never attempted. There is perhaps some artistic exaggeration of the coastline, sufficient to have originally suggested the subject was Dungeness - but no towers were built on its eastern side, except close to Hythe, and Langney Point is the only other alternative for the promontory in the middle ground. One of the two towers on the point there is still standing, and a further pair bracketing what is now the Martello Beach Caravan Park further round.

Object Details

ID: ZBA5114
Type: Watercolour
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Westall, William
Places: London
Date made: circa 1820
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Primary support: 143 mm x 252 mm

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