Thursday, August 21, 2008

An Eccentric Tour of Sussex

Written by Peter Bridgewater, Illustrated by Curtis Tappenden, Snake River Press, 2007

An Eccentric Tour of Sussex is one in a series of beautifully designed books that explore Sussex from different perspectives as diverse as Writers and Artists and Wildlife.
Bridgewater’s Eccentric Tour of Sussex details some well known (the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, Lewes Bonfire Night) and some lesser known (The Black Princess of Horsham, the Airman’s Grave at Nutley) unusual things to experience in Sussex.
The fifth chapter, Fuller’s Folly (pp 24 – 27) gives descriptions of Jack Fuller’s pyramid, obelisk, observatory, tower, sugar loaf folly and rotunda temple.
The biographical section describes Fuller as an industrialist. (Page 24)
John “Mad Jack” Fuller was a very wealthy man. The fortune he inherited was derived from three activities that his ancestors were involved in: Sussex farming, Jamaican sugar plantations and iron founding on the Weald. The Fuller’s forge at Heathfield closed in 1787 when Fuller was 30 years old. Does this make him an industrialist? I’m not sure.
On page 26, Bridgewater writes that Fuller “, served [as a member of parliament] for Southampton once and Lewes twice”. This is incorrect. He was Member of Parliament (MP) for Southampton from 1780 to 1784 and for Sussex from 1801 to 1812. He was never MP for Lewes.
Another misleading statement is : “ He retired from politics, rather disgraced after insulting the Speaker of the House of Commons in a drunken debate about the French”, (Page 26). Although it is true that Fuller’s was removed from the house for disorderly conduct in 1810, the incident arose from his participation in an enquiry into the Walcheren Campaign where the British troops suffered heavy losses in the Netherlands. “The Walcheren Campaign was an unsuccessful expedition to the British Netherlands in 1809 intended to open another front in the Austrian Empire's struggle with France during the War of the Fifth Coalition.” Source: Wikipedia. Fuller insulted the speaker, was taken into the custody of the Serjeant-at-Arms and was publicly disgraced. He did not stand for parliament again.

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