Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"History Hunger" & Perch Hill Farm

I have just finished Perch Hill: A New Life by Adam Nicolson.
I found myself rereading entire pages simply to savour Nicolson's descriptions of the High Weald. He writes regarding his curiousity about the history of the 90 acre farm and its previous tennants:
"The written documents run out too early and are no good anyway, a list of men and, from time to time the tax they paid. 1832: Edmund Goldsmith is the tenant of John Fuller, known to history as Mad Jack, a rabid Tory, Member of Parliament, sugar-and-iron millionaire, folly-building eccentric, patron of Turner, buried in Brightling churchyard in a pyramid where he is said, erroneously, to be sitting down to a final gargantuan dinner at a cast-iron table. That's what we know about Jack Fuller. We don't know anything about Edmund Goldsmith. "pp. 121

Photos by Wealden artist Paul Jackson, with kind permission.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

BBC's Inside Out on Jack Fuller

Recently I've been contacted by Matthew Wheeler, a researcher for the BBC television program InsideOut. He writes:

It's a regional programme, on Monday evenings at 7.30 on BBC1. It aims to give viewers three surprising stories from East Sussex/Kent every week.

Each week we feature a heritage piece, and I'm researching for a piece we'd like to do on Mad Jack Fuller for the new series in Spring 2006. I found your excellent website and thought I'd get in touch to see if you could help me, and maybe give me some tips as to where to go and who to talk to in order to find out more.

Naturally we'll feature the various follies in the piece, but I'd like to focus on the lesser-known Jack Fuller stuff as well, stories that might be more surprising for locals; e.g. the fact that he saved Bodiam Castle from destruction.

The programme will be recorded before Christmas and will air in the spring of 2006.
Contact me if you can help.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Searching for Charles Croft

Known as the Brightling Needle, Jack Fuller's 65 foot tall obelisk stands atop a hill, variously known as Brightling Down and Brightling Beacon.

In 1985, extensive renovations were carried out to strengthen and stabilize the obelisk. Two local men who were involved with earlier repairs scratched these words into the structure: R Croft, 1899; and Charles Croft, July 29, 1889, aged 16 years.

A recent inquiry by a Croft family member has prompted me to try to find out who these men were. Were they residents of Brightling or skilled tradesmen brought in from a neighbouring town or village to complete the repairs to the obelisk?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.