South Down Lodge No.1797 started its life on Tuesday 25th February 1879 in the Music Rooms (Communal Hall) Hurstpierpoint. This building still exist but is now a private dwelling. The Lodge was the brainchild of W.Bro. George Kelly-King a local Brewer who along with many Brethren from Mid Sussex Lodge No. 1141 (now renamed March & Darnley Lodge) were the Petioners. It came into being at a golden age for Lodges in the late Victorian period, when many Lodges were formed in towns. South Down however was conceived as something of a rural Lodge, being in the heart of the downs and having the Southdown Sheep as it’s emblem.
It soon moved to the New Inn Hotel in the High Street Hurstpierpoint for about 10 years, it had difficulty establishing a permanent home in this rural setting and moved a number of times to various Hotels and hostelries all within a 5 mile radius.
In October 1916 however, it moved into the heart of Brighton, to the Old Ship Hotel. It was well establish there until 1933 before moving to it’s current home at Queens Road. This building had been conceived just after WW1 as a memorial to a fallen Brother and when completed many Lodges moved to this purpose build Centre.
At about this time it became known as a ‘Policeman’s Lodge’ The details are not clear but it does pre-suppose that a good number from the force were members and the Chief Constable of Reigate was Initiated into the Lodge.
During World War 2 in common with many other Lodges the membership surged and reach a zenith of 101 members in 1946. The high membership and the obvious disruption of war, making the Secretary’s duty particularly difficult.
It is very proud to have been the main sponsor of two other Sussex Lodges, Adur Lodge No.2187 in 1886 and Lignum Lodge No. 6744 in 1948. It also petitioned successfully in 1953 To have it’s own Chapter which bares the same name and emblem.
Some members have even achieved national fame such as W.Bro Douglas Reeves who was a household name as the concert organist for the BBC after the war and Bro. Maurice Tate who played cricket foe England in the 30’s
South Down has played its part in the life of Brighton. Members have also played the part in the life of Brighton having at least two Mayors as members. South Down Lodge has also been at the forefront of Provincial Life able to count amongst it’s members a good number of Grand Officers, 2 Assistant PGM, Provincial D.C.’s, ADC’s and Mentor. Not forgetting W.Bro. George Hunt and Grand Officer and the Provincial Second Grand Superintendent in Chapter.