Spirit of the South: the eccentricity of a Georgian gentleman in Sussex

Credit: ITV Meridian

You might be forgiven for thinking that personalities in politics is a relatively recent thing - but no so. There was an Eton-educated eccentric ruffling feathers 200 years ago.

The achievements of John Fuller were many: he gave Eastbourne its first lifeboat, paid for the first lighthouse at Beachy head and saved Bodiam Castle from demolition. But he's better known for a series of follies in East Sussex that have stood for nearly 200 years.

In the Sussex village of Brightling is the mausoleum of John Fuller, better known as Mad Jack. Rumour has it inside the 25ft pyramid he sits at an iron table wearing a top hat.

Jack Fuller was an eccentric Georgian squire. He was immensely rich, with his fortune built from the iron industry and later from the Jamaican sugar plantations.

He was a benefactor to the hermit's tower, who he would keep in there for one year and one day all these stories built up around it. The final session is he's buried in a 25ft high pyramid.

John Fuller - also know as 'Mad Jack' Credit: ITV Meridian

Aged 53, Fuller's political career ended in disgrace. He was kicked out of parliament for calling the speaker of the house an "insignificant little man in a wig". He came back to Brightling and asked the local rector for permission to build a mausoleum in the churchyard. The rector agreed but he hadn't quite envisaged anything on of this scale.

It was another 24 years before it was needed. Two centuries later, its now in need of repair.

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