|John Fuller by Charles Turner, after Henry Singleton, 1808|
Fuller was born the son of Reverend Henry Fuller and his wife, Frances; indeed, he was also cousin to one of our previous guests, Sir Hans Sloane. Fuller enjoyed a privileged education at Eton College and at the age of 20 came into a fortune in property both in Sussex and Jamaica on the death of his uncle, Rose Fuller MP. Chief amongst the inheritance was Rose Hill Estate, now known as Brightling Park.
Fuller took up residence as squire of Brightling, and in 1780 began his parliamentary career as MP for Southampton, a seat he held for four years before moving on to become Sheriff of Sussex. As the years drew on he set his cap in the direction of Susannah Arabella Thrale, daughter of Hester, but the young lady rejected his proposal and Fuller never married. Instead, he concentrated on his professional life and returned to Westminster in 1801, this time as MP for Sussex.
In fact, it was in the House of Commons where Fuller created a dreadful scandal when, in 1810, he drunkenly harangued the Speaker of the House of Commons and was physically removed from the chamber by the Serjeant-at-Arms and a number of clerks. A passionate supporter of slavery, he spoke on the matter on numerous occasions in the House of Commons and was never short of an opinion on most matters.
In 1811, Fuller supervised the building of a pyramid in the churchyard of the Church of St. Thomas à Becket in Brightling, which was intended to serve as his final resting place. The following year he retied from parliament and transferred his interests to a passionate support of Royal Institution. Here he mentored Michael Faraday and in 1818 he built the Observatory at Brightling, going on to many philanthropic activities.
John Fuller died in London; in accordance with his wishes he was returned to Sussex and laid to rest beneath the pyramid.