A Foray around ‘Mad Jack’s’ Brightling Follies.

A Foray around ‘Mad Jack’s’ Brightling Follies.

John (Jack) Fuller known locally as mad Jack Fuller was a wealthy country squire. A member of parliament, owner of Sussex estates, London properties and Jamaican plantations, born in 1759 and died 1834 aged 77.

10.35 am Sunday 27th found an anxious group of would be walkers assembled at GR 671209 near Brightling village. 3 of the party had already disappeared from view, searching for a possible geo-cache, but the leader of the walk and her co pilot had not yet arrived. Maps were consulted to ensure that we were at the correct position. Just as strategies re her non arrival were being discussed, a car was spotted hurtling around the corner with the leader on board. It seems the leader had been cavorting till 1.30 am the previous night and had had difficulty getting into gear for the Sunday walk. HOWEVER.

What a fantastic walk and what a fantastic day. With wall to wall sunshine and stunningly beautiful woods, we were just so spoilt. The area around Brightling and Woods Corner is extraordinarily beautiful. Fields carefully managed and hedges neatly clipped. We initially walked past the OBELISK /NEEDLE, 65 ft high, 646 ft above sea level. Sadly this folly is on private land a couple of hundred yards from the road, but we were suitably impressed anyway.

On across fields of sheep safely grazing, although one notice warned of llamas that would attack unruly dogs, or other offenders but we saw none and

on through glorious beech woods till we arrived at The Swan for refreshments. A very friendly young man ( age two ) decided to climb up and sit at the table with Mike, Pete and Brian and happily helped himself to Mike’s crisps whilst the lads were hotly discussing the financial state of the nation.

Jane disappeared to eat her healthy lunch in peace whilst the rest of us munched our less healthy but delicious baguettes in the pub (great food, lovely cosy pub dog friendly -10 out of 10)

From the pub it was no distance to THE SUGAR LOAF (in bygone days sugar was sold in a solid cone shaped mass thus the conical shape of the tower thus its name,). Apparently Jack Fuller had the sugar loaf built swiftly because of a wager he made i.e. that he could see the spire of Dallington church from his window. When he realised he couldn’t the sugar loaf was built to resemble the church spire. Dick was hoping to scramble up the tower but was told he couldn’t. Apparently he and Kevin misbehaved last time they were there. We did have a photo shoot before we ambled down through more beautiful countryside towards the ROTUNDA TEMPLE. Sadly again we could only appreciate the temple from a distance, as it was on private land. 25ft high Grecian style. There are only guesses as to the ‘use’of the building. I like the idea that Jack Fuller and his ‘lady’ friends had many a frenzied orgy there – although there are other tales of wild gambling sessions – who knows.

After the Temple it was on to THE TOWER 35ft high with big stone windows, Jane and Ruth ascended a very dodgy spiral staircase on the trail of the next geo-cache but in fact Mike found it, his first one ever. Dick spotted a dead sheep in the scrubby wood outside, and later Rod saw a buzzard which he tried to direct towards the dead sheep.

Brightling churchyard was the site of another geo-cache and also the site of Jack Fuller’s burial place , a most splendid PYRAMID which Fuller had built 24 years before he died. Various outrageous stories surround both the building and the burial, none of which can honestly be substantiated. A great burial place then and a folly with a purpose, as was the OBSERVATORY which he had built because he was hugely interested in astronomy. We only observed the Observatory from a distance right at the end of the walk.

The last architectural creation (and the most beautiful), we passed was the SUMMER HOUSE, just a wonderful ornamental arch, very simple yet so romantic. Dick posed for a photo shoot. May I say that he really didn’t look as if he was fading away, although he had previously confessed to me anxieties re his health, it seems he is fast losing weight, his trousers are falling down and his belt no longer holds them up properly and he gave the impression he’s recently been deprived of cake due to the disrepair of Ruth’s cooker, If any one has any spare cake I’m sure it will be appreciated by Dick.

If you have managed to read this far, congratulations. If you want more to read about the colourful 19th century Squire Fuller there is a great book by Geoff Hutchinson ISBN 0951993666.

Our thanks to Ruth for a fabulous walk.


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