In 1775 George Augustus Elliot, Lord Heathfield (1717 - 1790), was appointed Governor of Gibraltar. During the siege of 1779-83 he held the British fortress against Spanish attack, and was made Baron Heathfield in 1787. He is shown, in this portrait, at Gibraltar during the siege, symbolically holding the key to the fortress, with a view to the peninsula in the background; a cannon points steeply down towards the sea and the sky is darkened by smoke. He is wearing what is presumably the ribbon and star of the Order of the Bath.
Lord Heathfield sat for this painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds in August and September 1787. The portrait was commissioned by the print publisher John Boydell. It was purchased by the National Gallery, London in 1824.
When Elliot died, his nephew Thomas Trayton Fuller (1785-1870) claimed the estate. He took on the names Elliott and Drake and so became known as Sir Thomas Trayton Fuller Elliott Drake. He was the son of Elliot's sister Anne and her husband John Trayton Fuller, Jack Fuller's first cousin. It was another of their sons, General Sir Augustus Elliot Fuller MP, who inherited Jack Fuller's Rose Hill estate.
The Gibraltar Tower was built by Francis Newbury in 1792 to commemorate the Siege of Gibraltar. This 55 ft high tower bears the inscription: Calpes Defensori or To the defender of Gibraltar. The letters forming these words are said to be made from metal from the guns of the Spanish floating batteries.
" From its summit a vast prospect is visible, and forty churches, it is said, may be counted. I saw but few of these. In the east, similarly elevated, is seen the Brightling Needle."
Highways & Byways in Sussex by E.V. Lucas, 1912, p. 308.