The Martello Tower is an extraordinary building on the beach at Aldeburgh. It was originally built as part of a campaign to protect our shores from Napoleon. Today, it retains its military feel. This is the largest and most northerly of the chain of towers put up by the Board of Ordnance to keep out Napoleon. Built in the shape of a quatrefoil for four heavy guns, nearly a million bricks were used in its construction. Here you may live with the sea, the wind, the rain and sometimes, the light at Orford Ness flashing at night, with Aldeburgh at just the right distance
The vaulted interior has been restored, and has a floor of teak and an intriguing echo. The bedrooms are screened from the central living area but not fully divided, so that, lying in bed, you can still have a sense of being in a larger loftier space – and you can enjoy some conversation with your fellow guests.
Martello Tower was built to deter the French, not the elements, and inevitably, in this exposed position, some of the water finds its way inside. Purpose-made canopies over the main living space now provide significant protection, giving an agreeable nautical resonance of sails and campaign tents.
The stone-flagged battery on the roof, with the mountings of guns and a high, thick parapet for shelter, is a very pleasant place to be. Sit on the roof and have fish and chip and a nice drink or two, with the sound of the sea. Apparently visitors often bring sailing dinghies or just enjoy watching the boats race from the nearby club.