Friday, January 02, 2015

Sussex by Barbara Willard

Publisher: B.T. Batsford Ltd., London 1965
[My comments in brackets]

Page 179 - Mad Jack Fuller, descended from the ironmasters, lived at Brightling, born there in the eighteen century.   [JF was not born at Brightling; he was born at North Stoneham, Hampshire. He did not live a Brightling until he inherited Rosehill from his uncle Rose Fuller in 1777] He left pretty well as much of a mark on his slice of the county as the Prince Regent left on his.  He got himself elected to Parliament at great cost to himself and the county – £ 50,000 is the sum named.  According to tradition he had himself drawn to Westminster by a great team of his own horses.  Belloc makes good use of this affair in The Four Men—how on his way Fuller was cheered and applauded, and how in the ‘most detestable House of Commons’ he delivered so fiery an oration on the County of Sussex that ‘the Sergeant-at-Arms grew sick with fear, and the Clerk-a-the-Table wished he had never been born.’ [The author is forgetting the Belloc's The Four Men is fictional and not biographical] He sat in the House from 1801

Page 180 - till 1812 and once, refusing to give way in debate, was carried from the Chamber.[JF was MP for Southampton from 1780 to 1784 and for Sussex from 1801 to 1812]  Pitt offered him a peerage, but it was not accepted. “I was born Jack Fuller and Jack fuller I’ll die.” [This apocryphal story remains unsubstantiated] His nickname, however, was Hippopotamus. [Joseph Jekyll MP 1752-1837 is credited with nicknaming JF The Hippopotamus].  The Fuller family as a whole seems to have had a rumbustious take-it-or-leave-it humour; their motto was Carbone et Forcipibus and you can see it inscribed under their coat of arms in Brightling Church.
Jack Fuller left his mark in practical ways, too.  He put a great wall round his estate of Rose Hill, now called Brightling Park, in order to give employment.  He set up an obelisk on Brightling Down.  He built The Sugar Loaf to win a wager—he had claimed he could see Dallington spire from his lawn and finding himself beaten on this point, he quickly ran up a mock spire to deceive his challenger.  He built The Observatory that stands high above the village.  This is now, after years of dilapidation, an elegant and original dwelling with stupendous views.  Across the road is a small piece of engineering that Fuller would have loved – a neat radio mast through which the A.A. transmit messages to their road patrols.

Page 181 - In the churchyard stands Jack Fuller’s last folly- and extraordinary pyramidal tomb, in which rumour long insisted that he was buried up right in an armchair.  The present church guide has a note about this indecorous notion, assuring the reader that Fuller lies under the floor of the pyramid, with a predictable verse from Gray’s Elegy inscribed above him. 
The church, the big house, the follies, the happy cottages, the Fullers Arms – these add up to Brightling.  [The Fuller's Arms, later called Jack Fuller's, closed on New Year's Eve 2004 and is now a private home] Leave the village by the steep little road to Mountfield and as you turn left at the hairpin bend you look down to the Darwell Reservoir.  The water completes the picture.  It is fed by the Rother, by Darwell and Glottenham steams that once worked for the ironmasters of this prosperous district.  By what one knows of the Fullers it seems likely they would look upon today’s use of the water as a waste of good working material.

Page 184 - North-east of Salehurst and Robertsbridge is Bodiam Castle. Sir
Page 185 - Edward Dalyngrigge started building in 1385, when he had received his licence for the enterprise from the King. …It was dismantled during the Civil War by Sir William Waller and his hard-working men, and it would probably have fallen to pieces if Fuller of Brightling had not bought it and saved it. [JF purchased Bodiam Castle, one of the most photographed castles in the UK,  on 18 September 1828 from a Hastings building firm for 3000 guineas]

Page 188 - Cobbett came to Battle in 1822, when he attended—and of course addressed—a meeting concerned with the corn laws, ‘Lord Ashburnham was called to the chair, and among others present was Mr. Fuller, who formerly cut such a figure in the House of Commons.’ By the time Cobbett was on his way home he was full of the opinion that ‘it will take a much shorter time than most people think to put out all the ancient families’. [See my blog post of 30 December 2004 here]

Page 49 - [In reference to the Grinling Gibbons Room at Petworth...]
Fuller—he comes later in his own part of Sussex—dismissing artistic fads and fancies, says that Petworth House was most famous for its stables –‘the best of any subject’s in the kingdom, for it affords stabling for three score horses’. [ I have often wondered if JF and JMW Turner first met at Petworth]

Page 141 - Uckfield was the home for three generations of the Fullers, ironmasters, and ancestors of Honest –or Mad—Jack Fuller, who is to be found later at Brightling.  John Fuller, gentleman, has his memorial in Uckfield parish church, dated 1610 and including a list of his charities.  He left ten shillings a year to Uckfield parish, in the confident expectation of being remembered by it.

Now I am dead and layed in grave
And that my bones are rotten,
By this I shall remember’d be
Or else I am forgotten.

Three-and –a-half- centuries have swallowed the shillings. [I have not been able to connect this John Fuller who is buried at Uckfield in 1610 to JF's family tree]

Page 160 - There are streams from the Cuckmere running by Chiddingly, the chief of them rising above Waldron, which is small and isolated, with good cottages and barns.  The church is built over a much older site… Fullers appear here, too, and have an extremely elegant monument, a shield mantelled and garlanded. [Memorial Major John Fuller of the trained Bands 1652-1722 is at All Saints Church, Waldron. This John Fuller is JF's paternal great-grandfather]. 

Page 161 - Heathfield had its iron works, and here again we find the Fuller family. [The Fullers produced cannon at their Heathfield furnace from 1693 - 1793]

No comments: