Fuller's Follies

Brightling, ROBERTSBRIDGE, East Sussex, TN32 5HH
Fuller's Follies


Set in the Sussex in countryside in a village called Brightling, these bizarre structures are testaments to the eccentricity of John 'Mad Jack' Fuller, a Victorian Squire who was prone to outlandish wagers and daring endeavours.

Born in 1757, Mad Jack (who preferred to be called Honest John), was Squire of the village of Brightling. He was elected to parliament at the age of 23, and served as an MP for both Southampton and Sussex. 

A known drunk and outspoken supporter of slavery, he was also a patron of the arts and sciences, and a builder of follies. He financed the building of an observatory in Brightling, and a lighthouse at Beachy Head, and bought Bodiam Castle to save it from demolition.

The Sugar Loaf, a spire-like structure on the horizon, was built as a result of drunken bet with a friend. Fuller put money on his claim that he could see the spire of Dallington Church from his home. On returning to his house, he found he could not see the spire, so built the Sugar Loaf to prove himself right. The structure got its name from traditional storage of sugar; it used to come in cone-shaped containers called loaves.

The Tower, set in the middle of a field is another mystery to Mad Jack enthusiasts. It looks like a tower from a palace in a fairy tale, but nobody knows why Fuller built it in the middle of a field, surrounded by trees. Speculations have been made about the tower being built so Jack could signal to Bodiam Castle, but in reality you cannot even see Bodiam from there.

The Obelisk, on the top of Brightling Down looking down upon the village, is another strange creation by the eccentric politician. Nobody really knows why this was built either, and finding any use for the structure is difficult. Sometimes known as Brightling Needle, the Obelisk is a good landmark and from it you get great views of the pretty village below. Some say the pointed building was to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, but as with most things Mad Jack did, we'll never really know.

The Temple in the grounds on Brightling Park has spawned many stories about Jack Fuller and his antics. Rumour has it that Fuller held wild parties there and entertained ladies at the Greek-style temple. Others say he carried out one his favourite pastimes here, gambling at cards with friends.

He died in 1834 and is buried in Brightling churchyard. Before his death he planned his own mausoleum – a pyramid. According to the rumour mill, Jack was buried inside the tomb sitting at a table with a bottle of wine by his side and wearing a top hat, with broken glass covered the floor to stop the devil's footsteps. Sadly, all these rumours were proved to be untrue when restorers entered the tomb many years later.

View a map of the follies here.

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Opening Times

Open Christmas
Open New Year
Opening (1 Jan 2021 - 31 Dec 2021)

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