Freemasons Arms Vat

Freemasons Arms, 38-39 Western Road, Hove.

Blaster W. G. Maynard.

The Freemasons today occupies two buildings which are both over 150 years old. The original pub occupied the building on the corner of Western Road and Brunswick Street West and is one of the few pubs in the city to still retain its original name. The property was probably built as a substantial family home by the Cheesmans, a famous Brighton building firm, who built Brunswick Square as well as many churches and other notable buildings in the city. The Cheesman family had strong connections to local Masonic lodges.

There was a considerable boom in masonic lodge membership after World War I, as many servicemen had discovered Freemasonery while serving in the armed forces. The new temple at Queens Road in Hove was unable to host all the new lodges formed in the years following the Great War and many public houses’ ¬†function rooms were equipped for Lodge meetings. One of these was the Freemason’s Tavern.

In 1934 the new Kemp Town Brewery under the Abbeys, purchased 38 Western Road and transformed the rather anonymous Freemasons Tavern building by installing an amazing and extravagent art deco frontage to the ‘buffet’, in copper and mosaic tiling with several references to the brewery with dolphins and masonic symbols incoroprated into it. The KTB (Kemp Town Brewery) lettering can also be seen over the front door. The reason for this was to attract further Masonic dining and charitable events. The outbreak of the Second World War with its rationing and dining restrictions severely rediced the masonic use of the venue during the conflict, but the Freemasons Arms remained a popular venue for masonic activities until the early 1960s, by which time the Freemasons were increasingly meeting at purpose-built masonic centres.