Brightling, East Sussex
Brightling, East Sussex

The village of Brightling is set in an elevated position in the High Weald, offering spectacular views over the surrounding countryside. The village is famous for its collection of fascinating follies, built by Brightling's eccentric Victorian squire, John 'Mad Jack' Fuller (1757–1834).

Fuller was a prolific builder of follies. These include the Observatory, the Needle, the Sugarloaf, the Temple, and the Tower. In addition, there is The Wall, which encloses Fuller's manor of Rose Hill (now Brightling Park), beside the parish church of St Thomas a Becket. The Wall was said to have been a project created to provide work for soldiers returning from the Napoleonic Wars.

In the churchyard is Fuller's most famous folly, his own tomb, known as The Pyramid. As its name suggests, the tomb is shaped like an Egyptian pyramid. According to unsubstantiated legend, Fuller is buried within, in a sitting position, holding a glass of claret in his hand.

From the churchyard, it is only a short walk across fields to The Observatory, a cylindrical tower folly in a farmer's field. You can climb stairs within the Observatory to get good views over the surrounding area.

On the hilltop above the village is the Sugarloaf folly. This conical structure was rumoured to be built as a result of a bet that Fuller lost. It seems that during a drinking session at his house, Fuller boasted to a guest that he could see the steeple of a nearby church from his window.

When the light of day proved this impossible Fuller had the Sugarloaf built on top of the hill to simulate the shape of a distant spire.

Within the parish church are several intriguing medieval brasses, and remnants of medieval wall paintings. There is also a fine memorial to Mad Jack Fuller.