South East Tower

The Town Wall. Henry 111 gave permission in 1261 for a wall and ditch to be constructed. The wall was begun in 1285 and completed by 1396. The medieval town was confined within these walls. They were constructed on three sides, with the long north-south wall facing the sea, and many of the buildings between the walls and the sea date from the 18th and 19th centuries. There was no wall facing the riverside, and at that time there were no bridges into the town across the rivers Yare and Bure until 1417; the only crossings were ferries. There was therefore, no direct river crossing into the town; a defensive boom was stretched across the river to protect it from attack by that route. The walls are recorded as being 23 feet high with 18 towers and ten gates (the main gates were at the north and south), 2238 yards long and enclosed an area of 133 acres. The inner wall has brick arcading supporting a wall-walk. The towers were either D-shaped or circular, except one. The walls are remarkably complete; eleven towers remain, but the gates were demolished in the 18th and early 19th centuries, to make room for wider waggons. The defences were modified in 1587 when it was found that they were poorly kept. A rampart was added behind the walls from the South gate around to Blackfriars Gate.

It is D-shaped with brick and flint chequer work, a 19th century structure on the roof and a 14th century lower stage. Against the tower and built into the wall, is an early 19th century fish curing works, which is now (2013) a pottery. With the wall on the left, pass the Old Jewish Cemetery and the site of the Garden Gate, which was demolished in 1808.

News update… The medieval South East Tower, part of Great Yarmouth’s 13th century town wall, has benefited from a £100,000 makeover to transform it into a cornerstone of the resort’s reinvention as a cultural and heritage destination.

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