"Some say…an intriguing theory recently put forward by one of the foremost authorities on Sussex is that those follies were part of a great smuggling enterprise. Mad Jack, with money, personality and intelligence, used the Observatory as a look-out post; it commands wide coastal views. Belle Tout is said to have served the same purpose, though it could have served no purpose at all during those frequent mists. The follies were on smugglers’ routes; they were hollow, and the seamen hid the goods there to be collected by the land men. Presumably the follies, being comparatively few in number, were only occasionally used as hiding-places, or the excise men would have had a much simpler task. Yet how does the Needle fit into that theory? The main object was to get the goods away quickly – not to run up the highest Down in the area for a cache that might or might not be there. Perhaps the Needle’s role was merely negative – a genuine folly adding weight to the deception about the others.
Mad Jack was in the habit of travelling in a heavily built barouche, carrying pistols and food and attended by at least one outrider, ostensibly as protection against footpads. A man who so fully enjoyed his wealth would not take kindly to the prospect of its being snatched way. Was it also for protection against rival smuggling gangs? It could hardly have been fro protection against the excise en. In his social position as landowner, philanthropist and Member of Parliament, a confrontation with the law would entail the loss of much, if not all he most valued. "
Source: Curious Sussex, by Mary Delorme – ISBN 07090-2970-5
St Edmundsbury Press Limited, 1987, pp 72 -73.