Fuller's Tower is the stuff from which legends are made!
It is approximately 35 feet (10.6 m) high and 12 feet (3.7 m) in diameter and is thought to have been built in the late 1820s. It is located off the Brightling-Darwell Hole road, about a quarter mile south east of Brightling Park. The tower can be reached by a small footpath.
John Frederick wrote,
"Within a clump of firs on an eminence not far from the church there stood, up till fairly recently, a very solidly built round tower. From the top of this, which before some mischievous boys set fire to the stairs and flooring within, was easily accessible, a wide panorama of undulating country could be seen. I was told that Fuller used to come here to watch from afar the construction of the railway through Robertsbridge, four miles away. Another fable connects the structure with the threatened Napoleonic invasion; the one version seems of too early a date and the other too late.
(A Village's Queer Building, SCM Vol II No. 10, Oct 1928, pp. 442-443)
It is also said that Jack Fuller had this tower built so that he could keep an eye on the workmen's progress during the restoration of Bodiam Castle. There has been some conjecture that it was used as a signaling tower.
None of these explanations for the tower's existence are persuasive. The South Eastern & Chatham Railway linked Robertsbridge to Tunbridge Wells in 1851 and Battle in 1852. The Kent & East Sussex Light Railway did not reach Robertsbridge until 1900. So the tower was not built for "trainspotting". Napoleon met his Waterloo on 18th June 1815 so there was no threat of invasion at the time the tower was erected. Fuller purchased Bodiam castle in 1829 and it seems that the Tower was built before then.
Another folly tower with an interesting history is the one at Pontypool, South Wales. Built around 1765 by local worthy, John Hanbury, the original tower had neither roof nor floor. In 1935 over 15,000 people gathered near the folly tower to watch the lighting of a special beacon to celebrate the jubilee of King George V. The tower was demolished during the second world war by order of the Ministry of Defence. In the 1980s a group called CROFT (campaign for the reconstruction of the folly tower) was formed. The rebuilt tower was opened by his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales in 1994.
Pontypool folly tower shrouded in mist.
Painting of the folly tower in the
The Conygar Tower in Dunster, Somerset was built by Henry Fownes Luttrell in 1775. It has no strategic or military significance and was designed as a "mock ruin" simply for its aesthetic value. The Crown Estate purchased the 9,900 acre (4006 hectare) Dunster estate, which includes the tower in 1950, and has restored and maintained the tower since then.