A walk around Brightling taking in the Follies of Mad Jack Fuller (John Fuller, 1757-1834, local Landowner, MP and supporter of the Royal Institution), a very pleasant (if cold and muddy) day with friends. The walk was led by Andrew who was our very able guide with a steady supply of both jokes and local history.
|View over Blackbrooks|
Starting off cold but sunny we soon warmed up as we got walking and got to grips with the mud. Well, I say got to grips, we were sliding about all day in the stuff. Parts of the walk were an absolute quagmire and I’m surprised nobody went head over heels at any point. This photo gives the merest hint of the mud that was to come. Note I’m lagging behind everyone else with a camera as usual!
|Mud at Little Worge Farm|
The first of the follies. The Obelisk (otherwise known as the Brightling Needle) is 65 feet high and (apparently) the second highest point in Sussex. Some claim it was built to celebrate Nelson's victory at Trafalgar (1805). Other say it was Wellington's victory over Napoleon (1815). However, with no inscription on the monument it will probably remain a mystery.
Note the clouds that are starting to come in as I looked back en route to the next folly. Thankfully the heavens did not open but it did bring bad portents about the weather to come.
The second folly. The observatory was built as a working observatory complete with camera obscura. However, it is now a private residence so no other views. Of note J M W Turner, yes, the Turner of “The Fighting Temeraire” fame (see Wikipedia: J.M.W.Turner) was a visitor in his younger days…
Onwards, this strange contraption is a covered conveyor belt (part of a gypsum operation) as we came through the woods. Also came across some interesting tree roots…
Out of the woods and it was starting to feel properly cold now. Biting wind and some fine snow visible in this shot towards Darwell Reservoir.
Time to shelter in the Third folly - The Tower. Many rumours about what Mad Jack was supposedly watching from here including to watch out for Napoleonic invasion, watching the local railway being built or to keep an eye on his workers restoring Bodiam Castle. However being built after Napoleon’s Waterloo but before he bought Bodiam or the railway building none of these are likely. I doubt we will ever know. Another mystery…Anyway you look at it there is a good view from the top window which Donna is looking out of here.
Next is the strangest folly of all to my eyes. When walking through traditional country villages coming across a church is normal. Coming across a church with a pyramid is not, especially when it turns out to be a mausoleum! 25 foot high it was built in the churchyard of St Thomas à Becket, Brightling, in 1811, 23 years before his death. It used to be rumoured that he was entombed in full dress, sat at a table with chicken and wine. Sadly this proved untrue as restoration work in 1982 found him to be buried conventionally within the pyramid.
From here we started to loop back towards the start but there are 2 further follies. Next was The Temple. A small rotunda atop a small hill. Again rumour abounds as to Mad Jack’s use for it...the hollow base might have been used to store food and wine, a place to gamble with cronies or a romantic place to woo the ladies…
Finally, the Sugarloaf. So called as it is a similar shape to the conical loaves sugar used to sold as it was built for a far more prosaic purpose. Having made a bet that he could see the spire of the church in Dallington Fuller returned home to discover that such a feat was not possible. In order to win the bet he had his men construct this edifice in 2 days in order to resemble to outline of the church spire. 35 foot high and 15 foot across at the base it is now hard to believe that it was converted into a 2 storey house in which people lived up until the 1930’s! The windows are now all bricked up bar one as it became a machine gun post during WW2 to defend against invasion. Certainly not a standard pill-box…
All in all an excellent day out with friends. Now, did someone mention fun...