English Coastal Defenses: Martello Towers

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Highlighting Historical Romance with Jude Knight today.

Jude shares her research into Martello towers once used for the coastal defense of England.

31773112_1018812684934964_5228745245448994816_n-300x225 Author's Blog Highlighting History I saw them on a show about turning old historical buildings into homes for modern families and was impelled to go find out more. Once I did, I had to have a Martello tower in The Reign of Silence.

Martello towers are small round forts built along the southern and eastern of England, with a few in Ireland and Scotland. They were based on towers built in Corsica to repel the Barbary Pirates. The British navy was very impressed when they were unable to overcome one at a place called Mortello Point, though it fell to a land assault.

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They could be accessed only through a door some 16 feet above the ground, accessed by a ladder, and were designed to withstand a heavy attack.

140 were built, but the invasion plans receded with the destruction of the French fleet at Trafalgar and had faded by 1812, and they never had to be put to their intended use.


At that moment, there was another shot, and then a scream, high pitched and coming closer until the sound of impact told the tale. Susan, fighting faintness, moved back until she could see the crumpled body and take a deep breath. It was too small to be Gil. He was still up there.

She turned back to the Tower, stripping off her jacket and her sash and then tying the sash again around her hips so she could kilt her skirts out of her way. “Moffatt, hold the ladder steady for me.”

Moffatt was still looking after the body. “Reckon that villain be dead, ma’am, falling from that height.”

“Undoubtedly,” Susan said impatiently, “but once I can get inside, Moffatt, you shall check, and stay down here to guard my back.”

Moffatt was shaking his head. “I can’t let you go up there alone, ma’am. His lordship would kill me. We don’t know how many of them there are.”

Susan had no time for patience. She tried reason first. “If that man had accomplices, they were not helping in the fight. Nor have we heard them coming to investigate. And I do not want them coming in behind me, Moffatt. I need you out here while I go to attend to Lord Rutledge.”

Moffatt wasn’t convinced. “I should go up first, ma’am.”

Susan pulled hundreds of years of aristocratic heritage into her voice and her glare. “You will do what you are told, Moffatt. I am going to Lord Rutledge, over you, if necessary. Hold the ladder.”

He grumbled, but could not quite bring himself to physically stop her. Not that he obeyed completely. Once she had made her scrambling and inelegant way to the top, she heard him order the boy to steady the ladder, and it began to shake again as he climbed behind. Susan ignored him, crossing the large room, passing several men asleep with their heads on the table beside plates of stew.

The stair upwards was inside the thick wall. She ran up until she came out onto the roof. The centre of the tower roof was well ablaze, the cannon engulfed in fire. Someone had packed it around with barrels and firewood, and the heat from the conflagration beat against her face. She circled around it, searching for Gil, barely conscious of Moffatt following her onto the roof.

There. On the wall, and far too close to the edge. The top lip of the outer wall sloped down to a gutter, and Gil lay with his head and one arm over the inner edge, one boot swinging free over the void, and the other wedged in the gutter. Susan climbed up to where she could reach his head, putting her hand over his mouth and sighing with relief when she felt his warm breath on his hand.

“He lives,” she told Moffatt.

She checked him as well as she could, stretching to run her hands over his torso, flinching when one came away from his side covered in blood. He was wounded again, the annoying man. He stirred at the touch, and turned his head to see her. “Goddess?”

“Gil, you have been wounded. We need to move you, but I want to be sure I will not do more damage.”

He was sucking in air, trying to talk. “Need—to put—fire out. Signal for—French.”

Moffatt met her eyes and left to circle the fire to the other side and look out to sea. He returned, shaking his head.

“No sign of any ships, my lord,” he reassured Gil.

“You there—Moffat? Help—lady—put out—fire.”

“I will see what I can do, Gil,” Susan reassured him. “But first, we have to get you down to safety. Where do you hurt? Here. Let us help you.”

Together, she and Moffatt eased Gil as gently as they could down into the relative safety of the roof’s interior, ignoring his continued protests.

“Just—creased—me. Leave me—here. Stop—signal for—ships.” He knocked Susan’s hand away.

“I see no ships, Gil. Stay still, you foolish man. You’ve been wounded. Oh, very well. Moffat, go and fetch some blankets. If we have enough, we might be able to smother the flame.”

“Something—to knock—wood apart,” Gil instructed. “Smother one—log at—a time.”

Moffatt disappeared behind the fire, and Susan bent to kiss Gil behind its shelter. The iron rammer for the cannon caught her eye, and she began knocking pieces from the fire, being careful to push them away from where Gil lay. Moffatt joined her, dropping a pile of blankets and disappeared again, reappearing a few minutes later with two buckets of water that he tipped over the blankets, then hurrying downstairs again to come back with a pike.

Hot and dirty, burnt and scratched, they worked side by side, knocking pieces from the beacon and smothering them with the wet blankets, one log or barrel at a time, barely seeming to make headway, but stopping at intervals to see that the beacon was smaller. Susan used the pauses to check on Gil, who kept insisting he was fine, though he lapsed in and out of consciousness.

Noises below had her grabbing for her guns, but the groom from the ground led a company of militia and the party from Selby Manor onto the roof, and their ordeal was over.

It seemed like no time at all before the militia had the rest of the blaze extinguished, and Susan was able to focus on checking Gil’s wound, which was worse than Gil had said, a gunshot in the side, and the bullet still within. Yes, and another scrape on the arm that had been injured in Edinburgh, and she didn’t know how many bruises and bangs and scratches. She would not cry. She did not have time for such nonsense. She could not leave him here, but moving him was not without risk.

“Organise a horse stretcher,” she ordered the militia captain. “We will take Lord Rutledge back to Selby Manor. Moffatt, are you fit to ride?”

“I can ride, ma’am. Should I go for the doctor?”

“Let one of the footmen do that, Moffatt. I will trust you to lead my lord’s horses. We will need to be very careful not to jolt him.”

the-realm-of-silence-new-style--200x300 Author's Blog Highlighting History About the Book

The Realm of SilenceBook 3 in the Golden Redepennings series

Rescue her daughter, destroy her dragons, defeat his demons, go back to his lonely life. How hard can it be?

“I like not only to be loved, but also to be told I am loved…  the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave.” George Eliot

When Susan Cunningham’s daughter disappears from school, her pleasant life as a fashionable, dashing, and respectable widow is shattered. Amy is reported to be chasing a French spy up the Great North Road, and when Susan sets out in pursuit she is forced to accept help from the last person she wants: her childhood friend and adult nemesis, Gil Rutledge.

Gil Rutledge has loved Susan since she was ten and he a boy of twelve. He is determined to oblige her by rescuing her daughter. And if close proximity allows them to rekindle their old friendship, even better. He has no right to ask for more.

Gil and Susan must overcome danger, mystery, ghosts from the past, and their own pride before their journey is complete.

Preorder links and more information: http://judeknightauthor.com/books/the-realm-of-silence/

Jude-Knight-200x300 Author's Blog Highlighting History About the Author

Jude Knight’s writing goal is to transport readers to another time, another place, where they can enjoy adventure and romance, thrill to trials and challenges, uncover secrets and solve mysteries, delight in a happy ending, and return from their virtual holiday refreshed and ready for anything.

She writes historical novels, novellas, and short stories, mostly set in the early 19thCentury. She writes strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, villains you’ll love to loathe, and all with a leavening of humour.

Website and blog: http://judeknightauthor.com/

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