Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Dallington “Six miles from everywhere”:

The history of a Sussex village
By Karen Bryant-Mole 1999.

Chapter: Buildings of Interest
The Sugar Loaf, Pp 96-97

'This unusual building is situated next to the main Heathfield to Battle road, due east of the playing field. It is the only one of Jack Fuller’s follies to fall within the parish of Dallington. Jack Fuller was an M.P. in the first decade of the nineteenth century and was also the wealthy owner of Rose Hill (now Brightling Park) and its estate. He has been variously portrayed as eccentric, extravagant, benevolent and outspoken. One thing is for certain and that is that he enjoyed a good party.
The traditional tale of the Sugar Loaf is that during one such party he wagered that the spire of Dallington church could be seen from his home, Rose Hill. When he found that this was not so he ordered the conical building to be constructed, some say overnight, in order to fool his guests and win the bet. The exact date of its construction is not known but it is possibly around 1822. Jack Fuller later had the building converted into a labourer’s cottage. It is thought that Simeon Crouch and his family may have lived in the Sugar Loaf in the late 1870s, as family members have been told that one of his daughters, Mabel, was born there in 1879. Relatives of the Lulham family are believed to have been the last people to live in the Sugar Loaf. The stone building had two storeys, with windows on each floor. There was a ladder between the two floors and there was also a lean-to kitchen.
Local people recall that during the Second World War it was used as an anti-invasion machine gun post. Over the ensuing years, the abandoned building began to fall into disrepair. However a newspaper article of 1955 states that although ‘crumbling to a ruin’. The Sugar Loaf was ‘still a magnet to thousands of tourists every summer’.
The Sugar Loaf is situated on land that used to fro part of Christmas Farm. In the 1950s, Dennis Baker bought Christmas Farm form the Brightling Estate and in 1962 he donated the Sugar Loaf to the local council. '

Friday, October 27, 2006

Across Sussex With Belloc:

In the Footsteps of 'The Four Men'
By Bob Copper ISBN 07 509 06030

“At Oxley’s Green an isolated forge and blacksmith’s shop lies back from the road on the right-hand side and soon after, the sign of the inn situated at a crossroads tells us sustenance is at hand. it is the life-size figure of the gallant Jack Fuller himself, at one time squire of this parish, complete with top hat and umbrella, for this is the Fuller’s Arms, now called Jack Fuller’s , where Belloc and Grizzlebeard fell in with the Sailor..” pp 7

“The landlord greeted me at the door, a friendly man in a striped apron, which spike of close association with the kitchen. The inn is well over half a mile outside Brightling itself and was opened here, converted from an old barn, by the redoubtable Fuller to replace the one in the village. The public life of the Green \man in the village street, it appears, was terminated by the advocates of abstinence and piety because its proximity to the church opposite seemed adversely to affect the size of the Sunday congregations. Not a very subtle approach, it could be said, to this age-old problem, and none is left wondering if this somewhat costly and clumsy attempt to load the dice against the devil actually worked.” pp 8.

“On my first walk I had stuck to the original route and at Wood’s Corner had come out on the Heathfield road, which at the time was very quiet. I had also diverted and walked a couple of hundred yards east of the Swan Inn and taken a close look at the Sugar Loaf, a conical building some thirty feet high standing in a meadow with no obvious practical use. You can still visit it today. There is a door and several windows, all but one of which have been blocked up, and it is reputed to have been lived in by an old man who brought up his family there. It is also said that it was once the refugee of a hermit, but this must refer to a different incumbent and probably and earlier period. It would be quite impossible for one man to combine two such diverse roles, particularly with in such a confined space.” pp11

Monday, October 23, 2006

Was Jack Fuller a smuggler?

"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.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Auto-biography of John Britton

John Britton by Charles Edward Wagstaff, after John Wood
NPG D20053 - mezzotint, 1845

Re John Braham

The name and fame of JOHN BRAHAM are familiar to all lovers of vocal music and the drama; as he has been upon the public stage of England and Europe more than half a century. When a boy he first attracted admiration in the Synagogue, Duke's Place, and at the Royalty Theatre, Well-Close Square; and, as an aged man, he displayed his amazing powers of voice and musical science in the public during the year 1849.
For many years he was my neighbour and friend, having resided at No.3, Tavistock Square, during my sojourn at No. 10 Tavistock Place. At his house I have spent many hours of high excitement and delight, in the company of some of the most eminent performers and literati of the age.
It is well known to the world that Signora Storace* lived there with him, and that one son, who was their issue, is now a Prebendary of Canterbury Cathedral [William Spencer Harris Braham born 03 May 1802]. After the decease of that lady, Braham wedded Miss Bolton, of Liverpool a very pretty and amiable young woman, by whom he had two sons and two daughters. [John Braham married Frances Elizabeth Bolton of Ardwick, Manchester, Lancashire on 18 Nov 1816]
At the birth of the eldest of those sons I spent the evening with him, and wrote him a congratulatory letter on the following morning. Many amusing anecdotes might be related of my friend, for he lived in the great, the gay, the public world: and his society was coveted by princes, titled lords, and ladies , as well as many of the sharpers and harpies of society. He was long noted for prudence and caution in pecuniary affairs, and boasted, before a Committee of the House of Commons, of never embarking in theatrical property. Yet he as afterwards seduced into speculations of not only hazardous but ruinous extent, in the Argyle Rooms, Regent Street, the Colosseum, in the Regent's Park and the St. James's Theatre. All of these failed, his property suffered, and he was thence compelled to make a professional voyage to America. On his return to England he again appeared upon the stage and in the concert-room; with his two sons, John [John Hamilton Braham born 01 Jan 1819, christened 28 Apr 1819 Old Church, Saint Pancras, London] and Charles [born c. 1817, London], travelled over the greater part of the island, giving vocal entertainments in most of the principal towns.
His eldest daughter [Frances Elizabeth Anne Braham born 4 Jan 1821 at Tavistock Square, St. Pancras, London] married John James Henry Waldegrave, Esq., son, before marriage, of the sixth Earl of Waldegrave. [marriage 25 Jun 1839 at Kensington] This gentleman died in 1840, in less than twelve months after their union; and in the same year his widow married the seventh Earl of Waldegrave, who was the younger, legitimate, brother of her first husband. [She married George Edward Waldegrave (born 8 Feb 1816) on 28 Sep 1840 in Edinburgh, Scotland.] This nobleman had succeeded to the peerage in his nineteenth year; and, both at Cambridge and in the metropolis, had acquired a most unenviable notoriety by riotous conduct in the public streets, beating policemen and other peaceable individuals, by feats of dangerous driving, and similar freaks of recklessness. The wild excesses of his lordship and his associates often appeared in the records of the London Police courts, and made his name as notorious a that of his disreputable companions and prototype, the Marquess of Waterford. The pecuniary difficulties in which he became involve, led to the disposal of his celebrated Villa or Strawberry Hill, with the whole of its valuable and interesting contents, which were sold by auction in 1842. That property had descended to him from Maria, Countess Dowager of Waldegrave and Duchess of Gloucester, daughter of Sir Edward Walpole, K.C.B. After exactly six years of married life, the Earl of Waldegrave died on the 29th of September, 1846, in the thirtieth year of his age.
Left with a handsome fortune, youth, and engaging manners, Lady Waldegrave married again, in September 1847, her third and present husband, George Granville Harcourt Esq., M.P., [born 17 Aug 1785 and died 19 Dec 1861] eldest son of the late Archbishop of York [Edward Vernon Harcourt born 10 Oct 1757 & died 5 Nov 1847] .
* Signora Storace was a noted character in the annals of the drama, and of gallantry, for many years. She was an accomplished singer and musician, as well as a very popular comic actress. Though she retained her maiden name, of Storace, till death, she was married, when in her teens, to Dr. Fischer , a famous German violinist, form whom she soon parted, and attached herself to Mr. Attwood, a composer; afterwards to Mr. Brian Barrett, a wax-chandler, who committed suicide; and, subsequently, she formed a more familiar and lengthened connection with Mr. Braham, with whom she lived for many hears. Early in their career they travelled to Italy, and to various other cites of the Continent performing at some of the most eminent theatres with unparalleled success. Older that her friend, she latterly became slovenly in habits, ordinary in person, and vulgar in manners, whence "the gallant, gay Lothario' was tempted to neglect her, and visit a Mrs. Wright, who lived in the vicinity of Tavistock Square, and whose personal attractions eclipsed those of the actress. These visits were so frequent that they become the topic of common remark and commentary. Mrs Wright had a husband, who deemed it advisable speculation to institute an action for crim. con. against Braham. There was but little difficulty to substantiate the case, and the jury pronounced a verdict for the plaintiff, with a large sum for damages. On this occasion, one of my witty friends (the late Edward Du Bois) penned the following Epigram, which was circulated extensively through the pages of contemporary periodicals:
"A Jew d'Esprit, -- in crim. con. see,
Lo! Braham's fate is such,
This Child of Song is only wrong
In loving Wright too much."

Title: The Auto-biography of John Britton
Publisher: Printed for the author, as presents to subscribers to "The Britton Testimonial"
Author(s): John Britton, T. E. Jones
Publication Date: 1850
pp. 177 - 179

John Britton - 1771–1857, English antiquary and topographer. The long list of his writings includes biographies, critical works on art and literature, and the descriptions of landscapes and buildings for which he is famous. The Beauties of Wiltshire (3 vol., 1801–25) was written with E. W. Brayley. The two friends wrote part of Beauties of England and Wales (18 vol., in 25, 1801–15), but because of difficulties with the publishers, they did not complete the series. Britton was influential in the movement to preserve ancient monuments. Source:

Monday, October 02, 2006

Obituary of John Braham

Feb 17. Aged 82, John Braham esq.
the veteran vocalist.
This favourite of three generations was
born in London in 1774. By descent he
was a German Jew; was left an orphan;
it is said that in his boyhood he sold pen-
cils in the public streets. However, he
was still very young when he became the
pupil of Leoni, and Italian singer of cele-
brity; and his first appearance in public
took place nearly seventy years ago, on an
occasion of which the following is a record:
“For the benefit of Mr. Leoni, at the
Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, on Sa-
turday April 21 1787, will be performed
the Comic Opera called the Duenna:
Ferdinand, Mr. Johnstone; Isaac, Mr.
Quick; Don Jerome, Mr. Edwin; Antonio
Mr. Davies; Lopez, Mr. Wewitzer; Carlos,
Mr. Leoni; The Duenna, Mrs. Wilson;
Louisa, Mrs Martyr; and Clara, Mrs.
Billington. At the end of Act I. ‘The
Soldier tired of War’s Alarms,’ by Master
Braham, being his first appearance on any
stage.” And again, after the first act of
the farce, he sang the favourite song of
Ma chere Amie. At the opening of the
Royalty Theatre in Wellclose-square on
the 20th June in the same year,” Between
the acts of the play, ‘The Soldier tiered
with War’s Alarms; was sung with great
success by a little boy, Master Abram,
the pupil of Leoni,” according to the
Chronicle; and another paper said, “ Yes-
terday evening we were surprised by a
Master Abraham, a young pupil of Mr.
Leoni. He promises fair to attain per-
fection; possessing every requisite ne-
cessary to form a capital singer.”
When he lost his boyish voice his future
prospects appeared doubtful, -- Leoni who
had fallen into difficulties, about that time

leaving England, but John Braham found
a generous patron in Abraham Goldsmith,
and became a professor of the piano. On
his voice regaining its power he went to
Bath, and there, in the year 1794, made
his appearance at some concerts that took
place under the direction Rauzzini, who,
appreciating his talent, gave him musical
instruction for three years. In 1796 young
Braham was engaged by Signor Storace
for Drury-Lane Theatre, and his debut
(which was in an opera called Mahmoud)
was so successful, that in the year fol-
lowing he was engaged for the Italian
Opera-house. Hoping, however, to achieve
a reputation more permanent than could
be obtained by any other course, he re-
solved to visit Italy, and there to complete
his musical education. Florence was the
first city at which he appeared in public;
then he went to Milan, and afterwards to
Genoa, at which latter place he studied
composition under Isola – performing with
another great English artist, Mrs. Billing-
Taking leave of Italy in consequence of
numerous solicitations form his own coun-
try, where the intelligence of his success
had awakened a lively curiousity, he re-
appeared at Covent Garden in 1801. This
is the pint form which may be dated that
triumphant career during which he created
a constant furore, the effect of which has
lasted in some degree even to our own
days. The opera in which he made his
first appearance after his return was a work
by Messrs. Mazzinghi and Reeve, entitled
The Chains of the Heart. For a series of
years, terminating in 1816, he sang at the
King’s Theatre, in concert with Mesdames
Billington, Foder, and Grassini. In 1809,
having been engaged for the Theatre Royal,
Dublin, for fifteen nights (for the sum of
2,000 guineas), he was so successful, that
his performances were prolonged to thirty-
six. When Weber composed his opera
Oberon for the English stage, Braham was
the original Sir Huon.
At the commencement of the present
century, a vocalist who was a the same
time an accomplished musician was a rare
personage; and for many years Braham
was without a competitor. After his voice
had lost its original power, he was suc-
cessively engaged at several theatres on the
mere strength of a reputation which seemed
immortal; and his proficiency in singing
Handel’s works was universally acknow-
ledged when his career as a popular vo-
calist had reached its termination.
Of his capabilities, it was said that from
the simplicity of “There was a Jolly
Miller”, to the difficulties of “Amid a
thousand racking Woes,” he had no equal.
His compass extended to about nineteen
notes; and his falsetto, from D to A, was
so entirely within his control, that it was
hardly possible to distinguish where his
natural voice began and ended.
But, after all, the unbounded popularity
which Braham so long enjoyed was derived
not so much form his scientific skill as
from the fact that he expressed, in his
well-known songs, with wonderful force
and fire, the national feelings of his time.
While his triumphs as a vocalist were
without precedent, Mr. Braham was also
successful as a composer. Not only did
he wrote several of the most popular songs,
but he composed a tolerably long list of
entire operas. Of these the most cele-
brated were perhaps The Cabinet and The
Devil’s Bridge, relics of which will be
found in every old-fashioned music-book.
The only vocation which Braham at-
tempted without success was that of ma-
nager. The St. James’s Theatre, which
he built as an opera-house, and which was
first opened in 1836, never fully answered
the purpose for which it was first intended.
He also leased the Coliseum in the Re-
gent’s Park, which proved an equally un-
successful speculation.
In private life Mr Braham was gene-
rally respected. He moved in good so-
ciety; and among his acquaintance his
fame as a man of extensive information,
and as a humorous retailer of anecdotes,
was scarcely inferior to his reputation as a
vocalist. The large fortune which his
genius and energy had once aimed was
lost by unfortunate speculation; but his
declining years have been passed in the
most cheerful comfort, secured to him by
the care of his daughter, Lady Walde-
grave. She married, first, John James
Henry Waldegrave, esq.; secondly in 1840
George Edward, seventh Earl of Walde-
grave; and thirdly, in 1847, George Gran-
ville Vernon Harcourt, esq. eldest son of
the late Archbishop of York. Three of
Mr. Braham’s sons have adopted his own
profession. Their mother was Miss Bolton,
of Arwick near Manchester, to whom he
was married in 1816. HE had previously
lived for some years with the daughter of
his old master, Anna Selina Storace, who
accompanied him to Italy, and by that lady
he had a son, who became a minister of
the Church of England, to which Braham
himself had conformed.

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine, January to June inclusive 1856, pp. 540 - 541

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Slavery Was Halted But Many Shackles Remain

Our correspondent finds churches gearing up to mark the bicentenary of the Abolition Act
The Times - June 24, 2006
by Nick Wyke
NEXT spring is the bicentenary of the abolition of the transAtlantic slave trade in British ships, and already the groundswell of commemorative preparations is starting to rival the build-up to the Make Poverty History campaign last year.
Leading the charge, predictably, is William Wilberforce whose bitter struggle to end slavery will be retold in Amazing Grace, a film from Walden Media which scored a recent hit with Narnia. The makers hope to hold the premiere next spring at Clapham Holy Trinity church, the spiritual home of the Clapham Sect, the group of influential evangelical Anglicans who helped Wilberforce to promote his anti-slavery Bill from 1787 until it was finally passed in 1807 (slavery in the colonies was abolished in 1833).
Wilberforce’s biography is being written by William Hague; the city of Hull is celebrating its most famous son with aprogramme of events and a revamped Wilberforce House museum; and St Paul’s church at Mill Hill, northwest London, which was built by Wilberforce in his final years, is being restored with the addition of a museum.

Read full article here.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Shiffners of Coombe

I am currently researching a branch of the Fuller family tree populated by the Shiffner and Bridger families. Pictured here, in 1789, is Sir George Shiffner (1762 - 1842) in the uniform of the 11th Light Dragoons. Sir George married Mary Bridger, maternal 2nd cousin of Jack Fuller.

From Access 2 Archives:

George settled down to the life of a country gentleman having before marriage spent five years in the 11th regiment of Light Dragoons as a cornet. (Army List. His appointment dated 27 February 1782; for his resignation see No. SHR/3035) He then took an active part in local affairs as a justice of the peace, (He took his oath of qualification at the Epiphany sessions, 1803; East Sussex Record Office, QO/EW35.) deputy lieutenant (For his commission, 25 August 1798, see No. SHR/141.) and as Captain of the Lewes Troop of Yeomanry and Captain of the South Lewes Volunteer Battalion during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. (See Nos. SHR/90-139, 327.) He took over his father-in-law's work in connection with the joint estates in England and America and continued to improve and extend the Coombe estate. We have ample evidence of these activities in his correspondence and diaries, the latter being continuous from 1784 to 1837. His local reputation was such that he was considered as a candidate for Sussex in the Conservative interest in the 1807 parliamentary election in the place of the sitting Member, John Fuller, who had become unpopular for his outspoken defence of slavery in the colonies. This was a delicate matter since Shiffner had proposed him in 1801 and was related to him, but as Fuller persisted in his candidature, Shiffner declined the invitation; (See Nos. SHR/145-169, and T. W. Horsfield, The History, Antiquities and Topography of the County of Sussex, vol. 2 (1835), Appendix, p. 25.) instead, he sat for Lewes from 1812 to 1826. (Horsfield, op. cit., Appendix, pp. 47-49.) He had a baronetcy conferred on him in 1818.

See previous post.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Jack Fullers Pub:

It's been a year since I posted about the sale of Jack Fullers Pub in Oxley Green (just outside Brightling). It was then listed at £795,000 by Forester Forman of Robertsbridge. Within the year, the asking price has been reduced to £695,000.

Excerpt from the listing:

SITUATION: In requested rural surroundings on the edge of Brightling village a noted local landmark within easy driving distance of Robertsbridge with its High Street shops and facilities, mainline station with regular trains to London Charing Cross and Cannon Street . There are many sporting and recreational facilities in the area, together with established state and private schools, footpaths, bridle ways and numerous places of interest, historic buildings and landmarks. The general area is regarded as being of outstanding natural beauty, yet is easily accessible by road or rail.

For full details go here.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

New record for Turner masterpiece

A Turner masterpiece has set a new record for a British painting when it was sold for $35,856,000 (around £20.5 million) at Christie's in New York. (Pic:
The painting of Venice - entitled Giudecca, La Donna della Salute and San Giorgio - has beaten the previous record of £12 million for Constable's The Lock, sold in 1990.
The Venice painting, last seen at public auction more than 100 years ago, has also beaten the world record for a Turner which had stood at £5.5 million for Seascape, Folkestone, bought in 1984. It has been sold by the not-for-profit missionary organisation, the St Francis of Assisi Foundation in New York State, and has been described as the finest Old Master to be sold at Christie's in New York since 1989.

Read full story here.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Geograph British Isles project aims to collect a geographically representative photograph for every square kilometre of the British Isles and you can be part of it.

What is Geographing?

  • It's a game - how many grid squares will you contribute?
  • It's a geography project for the people
  • It's a national photography project
  • It's a good excuse to get out more!
  • It's a free and open online community project for all
The Obelisk ( Brightling Needle)

The Brightling Needle stands to the north-west of Brightling Park. It is 65ft high and stands on the second highest point of Sussex, 646ft above sea level.The most obvious reason John (mad jack) Fuller had this built to celebrate Wellingtons victory over Napoleon in 1815. It is also a possibility that Fuller had it built just to provide work for the villagers during severe unemployment.This is one of Jack Fullers five follies.

Photo by Janet Richardson, with kind permission.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Sussex follies and Mad Jack

Inside Out - BBC South East: Monday January 30, 2006
Inside Out looks at some unusual features on the Sussex landscape, and asks if their creator John Fuller was mad or just slightly eccentric?
A pyramid isn't what you'd normally expect to see in an English graveyard.
But this pyramid isn't in Egypt - it's in Brightling, East Sussex.
It's not the tomb of an Egyptian pharaoh, it's the tomb of a Georgian squire - Mad Jack Fuller.

The real Mad Jack

So who was the real Jack Fuller?
Born John Fuller in 1757, Mad Jack was MP for Lewes and incredibly rich.
He got his nickname from the way he spent his money, trying to make sure he was remembered.
Today he is remembered, as 'Mad' Jack.
But how mad was he? To find out, Inside Out has assembled a team of experts:
Keith Leech - member of Mad Jack's Morris Dancers.
Celia Caulkin - leads walks around Mad Jack's follies.
Geoff Hutchinson - he's written a book about Mad Jack.

Read the full article here. There are one or two minor inaccuracies.
Photo courtesy of Mark Duncan.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Fuller's Pyramid

On Wednesday January 25, Tristan Forward published some excellent photos of Jack Fuller's pyramid and details of St Thomas Church, Brightling on his The Emotional Blackmailers Handbook blog which can be viewed here.