Object Details

John (Mad Jack) Fuller's Mausoleum

Browse information by:
General Information
Object Parts
Object Condition

Download this information in PDF

See 3D model

Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright for Photograph:

Creative Commons


Street:The Street
Council:Rother District Council
County:East Sussex
Location on Google Map
Object setting:Religious
Access is:Public
Location note:Churchyard of St. Thomas a Becket Church.
In the AZ book:East Sussex
Grid reference:L1
The A-Z books used are A-Z East Sussex and A-Z West Sussex (Editions 1A 2005). Geographers' A-Z Map Company Ltd. Sevenoaks.
OS Reference:TQ684210

back to top


Name :Sir Robert Smirke

back to top

General Information

Commissioned by: John (Mad Jack) Fuller
Construction period:15 November 1810 - 15 June 1811
Installation date:1811
Unveiling date:18/04/1834
Work is:Extant
Object listing:Grade II*: particularly important and of more than special interest
Building listing:II*
Description:An ashlar pyramid formed from large stone slabs, set on a square base. There is a covered entrance way with iron gate into the pyramid on the west face.
Inscription:9th verse of Grey's Elegy inscribed plaque inside the mausoleum:

The boaft of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Await alike th' inevitable hour,
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

back to top


Categories:Funerary, Functional, Architectural
Object type1:Building
     Object subtype1:Pyramid
Subject type1:Non-figurative

back to top

Object Parts

Part 1:Entrance
     Height (cm):250
     Width (cm):235
Part 2:Pyramid
     Height (cm):762
     Width (cm):690
     Depth (cm):690
Part 3:Base
     Height (cm):85
     Width (cm):750
     Depth (cm):750

back to top

Object Condition

Overall condition:Good
Risk assessment:No known risk
Condition 1 of type:Surface
     Condition 1: Corrosion, deterioration
     Condition 2: Bird guano
     Condition 3: Biological growth
     More details:Erosion to stone surface on all sides. Bird guano on all sides. Masses of pink and blue daisies growing on all four sides.
Condition 2 of type:Structural
     Condition 1: Cracks, splits, breaks, holes
     More details:Some cracks and small holes to stonework on all four sides.
Date of on-site inspection:07/07/2007

back to top


History:'John (Mad Jack) Fuller (1757-1834) inherited the family mansion, Rose Hill, in Brightling on his 20th birthday in 1777. He became M.P. for East Sussex and soon gained a reputation for being outspoken and an eccentric. He was also a patron of the arts and a public benefactor who provided Belle Tout lighthouse at East Dean. However he is best known for the many follies he erected around his estate in Brightling Park, after his retirement from politics, possibly to relieve unemployment in the area. However, the most unusual folly is the Pyramid, a 25ft-high mausoleum built in 1811 many years before his death… There is sadly no truth in the rumour that he was buried sitting on an iron chair in full evening dress, with a bottle of port and a roast chicken on the table in front of him, awaiting the Resurrection. He is buried beneath the pyramid.'
('Curiosities of East Sussex')

During renovations in 1982, Fuller was confirmed to be buried in the conventional manner.

‘He represented the County of Sussex in four successive Parliaments, refusing a peerage rather than forsake his party, for which deed he was nicknamed ‘Honest Jack’ which delighted him so much that he declared his intention of instructing his executors to place his bust in Brightling Church with the inscription:
Nothing is useful which is not honest, which is derived from Pope’s words, “An honest man’s the noblest work of God.”. This tablet is on the south wall of the Nave and is the work of the famous sculptor, Henry Rouw.
The Fuller family motto was “Carbone et Forcipibus”…By Charcoal and Tongs.
Fuller died in 1834, a bachelor.’
(Brightling Church Guide)

'John Fuller died on Friday April 11, 1834, at his home in Devonshire Place in London and his body was taken to Brightling for burial. On Friday April 18, he was interred beneath the 25ft high pyramid in the churchyard at Brightling Parish Church. In the true style of the Egyptian Pharaohs Fuller was preparing for his death 24 years before it actually happened and the entry in the Burials and Baptism register of Brightling Parish dated November 15th, 1810, reads:
'Be it remembered that John Fuller Esq of Rose Hill at the beginning of the present year applied for permission to erect a mausoleum in Brightling Churchyard…The testor J.B. Hayley, Rector'...
Sir Robert Smirke came to Rose Hill on July 29, 1810 and Fuller's pyramid was built between November 15, 1810 and June 15, 1811. It is, therefore, reasonable to assume that Smirke had a say in the design of the structure and it is suggested he based it on the Tomb of Cestius in Rome, as he had returned from a trip to Italy in 1805, and was much inspired by what he had seen...
During 1987 cracks began to appear at the base of the pyramid and it was feared the structure could be slipping. A fund was set up, the foundations checked and the necessary repair work was successfully carried out.'
( ‘Fuller: The Life and Times of John Fuller of Brightling 1757-1834’)

The family motto originated from them being the owners of the Waldron Furnace, iron being an important industry in Sussex at that time. He was elected to Parliament in 1801, 1802 and 1806. Amongst several of his close friends was J.M.W. Turner who executed several paintings of Sussex whilst staying at Fuller's Sussex home, Rose Hill. He was responsible for preserving Bodiam Castle.
(Lower, Mark Anthony. 1865. 'Worthies of Sussex'. Printed for subscribers only by G.P. Bacon, Lewes.)

Fuller was also responsible for the building of Belle Tout lighthouse in Eastbourne in 1832.

back to top


Source 1 :
     Title:'Curiosities of East Sussex: A County Guide to the Unusual'
     Author:Arscott, David.
     Publisher:S.B. Publications. Market Drayton.

Source 2 :
     Title:'Brightling Church Guide'
     Author:Boyd, Diana.
     Publisher:Tea Brokers Publications Ltd. London.

Source 3 :
     Title:‘Fuller: The Life and Times of John Fuller of Brightling 1757-1834’
     Author:Hutchinson, Geoff.
     Publisher:Geoff Hutchinson.

Further information:

back to top


Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons

Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons

Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons

Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons

back to top