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Second World War pillbox at Stone Cross

A Grade II Listed Building in Westham, East Sussex

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.8161 / 50°48'57"N

Longitude: 0.3005 / 0°18'1"E

OS Eastings: 562157

OS Northings: 104360

OS Grid: TQ621043

Mapcode National: GBR MTP.QT3

Mapcode Global: FRA C6JY.0X6

Plus Code: 9F22R882+C6

Entry Name: Second World War pillbox at Stone Cross

Listing Date: 7 September 2016

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1436011

Location: Westham, Wealden, East Sussex, BN24

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Westham

Built-Up Area: Eastbourne

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Stone Cross with North Langney

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

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Pevensey

Summary


Second World War concrete pillbox, c1941-2.

Description

Second World War concrete pillbox, c1941-2.

MATERIALS: reinforced concrete.

PLAN: the structure is rectangular in plan with access and blast wall to the rear. The principal embrasures face east to Pevensey Bay.

EXTERIOR: the pillbox stands on raised ground at the north western corner of a field. It has cast buff concrete walls and a chamfered concrete roof. The main eastern elevation has two wide embrasures, with stepped concrete surrounds. A single example of the same embrasure is present on the southern and northern elevations. The western elevation has a single narrower embrasure in the southern corner and a central projecting concrete entrance, with blast wall. To the north the access is over sloping soil which may conceal steps. To the south there is a square aperture in the concrete. All across the pillbox horizontal build lines identify the successive layers of wood shuttered concrete, used in the construction process.

INTERIOR: it has a single room with smoothed and painted concrete walls. The walls are stepped, thickening towards the floor. Each embrasure has a rebate for a gun mounting. There is one largely complete example of a Turnbull gun mount, and the vestiges of another three.

History

The earliest examples of pillboxes date from the First World War, although this example, along with many thousands of others, was constructed as part of a national defence programme in response to the threat of German invasion in 1940 and 1941. It is believed that the extant structure was not the first to occupy this site as the Germans interpreted a defensive position at this site in 1940, which is marked on contemporary German maps. By 1942 Canadian troops were responsible for the nodal defences in the area, with HQ and ‘A’ Companies specifically responsible for the defences at Stone Cross. The nearby Stone Cross Windmill was also used by Canadian artillery as an observation post for a set of guns on the hill. In Sussex individual commanders were given the Pillbox standard design book but had authority to change designs to suit local conditions and objectives. The concrete construction, and Turnbull gun mounts indicate a 1942 construction date. The pillbox would have overlooked a road block comprising cylinders, buoys and hairpin rail obstacles. As a Nodal Point the defended road junction was intended to deny enemy use of the roads, rather than protect a village. As part of the wider defences including pillboxes at Pevensey Castle, the defences were intended to hold out for seven days after invasion without outside assistance. The pillbox at Stone Cross was designed to resist artillery attack and is fitted with Turnbull machine gun mounts. These mounts were designed by Flight Sergeant Turnbull of the Royal Air Force to provide a fixed machine gun mount that would control the arc of fire within the embrasure, and remove the need for unwieldy tripods.

Reasons for Listing

The Second World War pillbox of c1941-2 at Stone Cross is listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:

* Rarity: it is a rare survivor of a non-standard pillbox with unusually wide embrasures; only three examples are known, all in East Sussex;
* Degree of survival: the concrete structure survives intact, and the plan form and function of the pillbox remains plainly legible. It also has an extant Turnbull gun mount;
* Context: as part of the wider Second World War nodal defence system at Stone Cross which links with pillboxes at Pevensey Castle.

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