W.Bro George Kelly-King.…. There is no doubt that W.Bro G. Kelly-King, the founding master, was the inspiration and driving force behind the formation of South Down Lodge. Reading the Extract from “The Freemason’s Chronicle” produced at the Consercration, it would seem that earlier efforts were in vain until he managed to recruit Bro John Musson a Henfield Mason and W.Bro. John Fitch a recently moved London Past Master, that his plans started to take shape. It is interesting to note that whilst the sponsors are listed as Mid Sussex Lodge (now March and Darnley) a good number of brethren from Royal York Lodge provided the back bone and early working members of the new Lodge. This is not surprising judging by the fact that Brighton would be a far easier location to draw from, considering the transport options available in those days. W.Bro. George is something of an unknown quantity and researches into his life have not been helped by the fact that he passed to the Grand Lodge above on 24th August 1879, (source Dixon’s History of Sussex Freemasonry) just six months after being installed into the chair. This must have been sudden and unexpected, for one would not would not have readily accepted the responsibility and arduous work load of a new lodge if there was health worries. His enthusiasm for Freemasonry was evident in that he was accredited with being part of the driving force for the formation of two other lodges previously to South Down Lodge. These being Mid Sussex Lodge No.1141 (now March and Darnley) founded 1866 and Alexandra Palace Lodge No.1541 founded 1875. Amazingly, when he was a petitioner for Mid Sussex Lodge, he had only been made a master mason just a few months, having been initiated just four months before that in 1865! Their history shows that he was already a very busy and influential mason in the fledgling Mid Sussex Lodge acting as something of a ‘quartermaster’ being responsible for acquiring most of the new lodge’s furniture and equipment. His correspondence of the time shows that he was tireless in these endeavours even though he still lived some distance away, just north of Croydon. He also remained very active in his Mother Lodge the Royal Somerset House & Inverness Lodge No.4 being finally installed into its chair on 27th January 1873 (this incidentally is a very old lodge which pre-dates the foundation of the United Grand Lodge of England). Our Lodge petition states that his profession was a Brewer (curiously Mid Sussex Lodge history states his profession as an editor? however this may be an error in their research, as indeed, it also states that he was a joining member not a petitioner!). As Mid Sussex Lodge met at Horsham, it was natural to assume that he was in some way connected to the family brewery firm of King and Barnes. This is in fact not the case and this has been verified by King and Barnes who point out that there were many more breweries in the 19th century than now. It was common for even a small town to have more than one and even a medium size town like Lewes had no less than seven! Another natural connection to make, as yet unsubstantiated, that he was connected to the Brewery in Hurstpierpoint. This was coincidentally adjoined to the Sussex Hotel which was our first dining rooms and subsequent meeting place. This has been difficult to prove for whilst the building still exists it has been a very long time since it traded as a brewery. A report in the ‘Freemason’ 26/2/1881 mentions a donation of two guineas donated for a ‘monument over his remain’ once again all details of location etc. are currently unknown. Sadly these sketchy details are all that is currently known about someone who, without whom, it could be argued South Down Lodge would not exist. Doubtless more revelations will come to light in the fullness of time.
The Founders and first Officers of the Lodge
Worshipful Master – W.Bro. George Kelly-King
I.P.M. & Treasurer – W.Bro. William Hudson
Senior Warden – W.Bro. James Curtis
Junior Warden – W.Bro. Walter Fitch
Secretary – Bro. Edward Broadbridge
Director of Ceremonies – W.Bro. Hugh Saunders
Senior Deacon – Bro. John Musson
Junior Deacon – Bro. Joshua Fitch
Inner Guard – Bro. Richard J. Pope
Tyler – Bro. H. Hughes
Members – W. Bro. Joseth Braithwaite, W.Bro. William Hudson, W.Bro Frank Holford, W.Bro. Edwin Taylor,
W.Bro. Henry Figg, W.Bro. John Moore, W.Bro. Walter G. Sharpe, W.Bro Charles P Smith.