The Lodge: 1980 - 1989

The period of the 1980's saw an even more marked decline in membership with numbers dropping from 68 at the start of the decade to 46 by the end - a drop of 32%. New candidates entering the Lodge numbered only 10 and there were 2 new Joining members but this was not enough to counter a considerable number of deaths and resignations. Installation attendances dropped to around the 70 mark and regular meeting attendances to just over 40. Visitor numbers declined and members attending dropped to around 30.

By 1980 it was clear that urgent action was needed to try and arrest the decline and in consequence of the recent changes at Collyer's it was decided to canvass opinions for relaxing the membership qualifications and opening the Lodge either to "those associated with the School (ie: parents or sons of Collyerians who had not themselves attended Collyer's)" or simply to open it to all. A special meeting was held in October 1980 to discuss the matter. With pupils at the new Sixth Form College only there for two years it was seen as being very difficult to make them aware of the Lodge and this problem has still to be resolved. It was realised there was a particularly urgent need to try and attract the younger element. Naturally these suggestions caused much disquiet and debate and fear that the Lodge would lose its uniqueness. Whilst the other Horsham Lodges were also experiencing a reduction in numbers and/or new members it seemed that Richard Collyer was being particularly hard hit. It was generally accepted that much greater effort was needed on the part of all of the members to try and find new candidates. After much debate it was agreed that it was too early to make such a drastic decision so it was decided to encourage the members to try and find candidates, to approach the other Horsham lodges to entice Old Collyerians who had chosen not to join their School Lodge and persuade them to consider changing allegiance or at least becoming a Joining member, and to publish an article in the Old Collyerian newsletter to seek members from within the Old Collyerians' Association.

In 1984 it was clear that no significant progress had been made with any of the ideas to address the declining membership and so another letter was sent to the membership on the matter of opening. The majority of the General Purposes Committee was in favour of opening the Lodge to all and in the end it was this approach that was adopted with the membership requirements being completely relaxed in September 1984. Whilst this step was clearly necessary it unfortunately did not result (and has not significantly resulted since) in any overall significant increase in new members coming forward. 22 new members have been Initiated into the Lodge since the opening of whom only 6 have been former pupils. The relaxation of the membership requirements has therefore certainly been well justified.    

The costs of membership continued their ever upward spiral rising from £14 to £43 by the end of the decade. Dining fees similarly were increasing and had by that same time reached £6.50, having doubled over 10 years.

The pattern of meetings continued as before with March still being a Past Masters' Night. Lack of candidates meant that 3 out of the 4 regular meetings could be taken up with ceremonies but a number of lectures and/or interactive parts of the ritual were needed to plug the gaps.

Close links continued with March & Darnley, In Deo Fidemus and Honor Deo Lodges and from May 1980 onwards it became a common practice to invite two of those Masters to occupy the Wardens' chairs for part of the Installation Ceremony. Who filled what chair seems to have been determined by availability, although in more recent times it is usual for the Master of March & Darnley to be invited to occupy the Senior Warden's chair. 

Various relatives of members were admitted as members during the period with the relatives taking part in the appropriate ceremonies: Bro. B.Ticehurst (brother of W.Bro. P.R.Ticehurst); Bro. S.R.Christian (son of W.Bro. F.R.Christian); Bro.M.Coleman (son-in-law of W.Bro.P.W.King); Bro.M.E.Fiske (son of the late W.Bro. C.E.Fiske); Bro. N.Garrett (brother-in-law of W.Bro. T.M.King). Two members celebrated significant attendance achievements - W.Bro. R.Griffiths notched up 60 years in Freemasonry and the Lodge and W.Bro. F.C.Tilling 40years with not a meeting missed in that time. In March 1987 a recommendation was put before the Lodge for Honorary membership to be accorded to W.Bro. Cecil Farley. The January 1987 meeting was finished early to allow brethren to leave in consequence of extremely bad weather. The October meeting was two days after the Great Hurricane and there was speculation that several members turned up just for a hot meal and the Initiate on that occasion was very much in want of Light!

1986 was the Diamond Jubilee of the Lodge and to mark the occasion the Brethren were invited to make a donation towards a Past Masters' Board to be hung in the Denne Road temple. This was formally unveiled at the May 1987 Installation meeting by the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, W.Bro. Richard Mosse.

Charitable giving continued much as before but with no commitment to any specific major Masonic festival. In September 1988 the Lodge made a donation of £1,000 to the Masonic Festival for the Aged and the Sick. Total donated: £16,541. Support was also given to the Friends of Harewood Court in Hove.