South Lodge: A Short History

Nestled among the stunning rolling hills, river valleys and ancient woodlands of the South Downs sits the historic, 93-acre country estate of South Lodge. Once home to aristocracy as well as noted ornithologist Frederick DuCane Godman, the estate is now in the care of the Exclusive Collection - whose luxury hotels epitomise the very best of English country living. The woodland surrounding South Lodge is known as St Leonard’s Forest, which is steeped in legend having been named after St Leonard - slayer of the last dragon in England. This land originally belonged to the Crown but was occasionally leased to members of the nobility for hunting, which also helped to safeguard and maintain the royal woodland.

South Lodge’s stunning Camellia Restaurant, where you will enjoy breakfast during the conference, is named after the very camellia plant that previous owner, Frederick DuCane Godman, so intently admired - so much so that he incorporated the external wall where it grew into his dining room. In fact, Frederick and his wife are responsible for inaugurating the estate’s unique landscape of world-famous rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas. Following the death of Frederick’s last surviving child in 1982, the estate was inherited by his great-great nephew before being sold to the Pecorelli family, owners of the Exclusive Collection, in 1985. South Lodge became the third hotel in the Pecorelli empire, opening as a 27-bedroom, 4-star hotel. At this point, the Godman sisters’ original bedrooms were transformed into the King George Suite and the Earl of Athlone Suite.

In 1986, the Camellia restaurant was awarded 2 AA Rosettes, establishing its reputation as a fine-dining restaurant and, the following year, the stables were converted into guest accommodation - now known as the Stable Block. In 1999, the Great Hall entrance was built with another two bedrooms above it, bringing the total number of rooms to 41. At this time, a brick from the Great Wall of China, which had been collected by Frederick during his many travels, was removed from the walled garden (now known as the Kitchen Garden) and installed above the Reception desk - taking pride of place!

In 2002, the South Downs Suite was built on the east side of the house to accommodate 12 conferencing and banqueting suites while, the following year, the old snooker room was remodelled into new sales offices and a state-of-the-art gymnasium was also added. 2008 saw the biggest year of expansion with the £6.8m addition of the Sussex Wing - adding 43 luxury bedroom suites. The Pass Restaurant was also opened the same year, as was the Billiard Bar. In March 2009, South Lodge hosted international heads of government during the G20 London Summit - many of whom stayed at the hotel during the event. A year later, The Pass restaurant was awarded its first Michelin Star.

South Lodge estate has played host to many historical figures over the years including E.H. Shepherd (illustrator of Winnie-the-Pooh and The Wind in the Willows) and, supposedly, Winston Churchill - who is believed to have favoured the Elizabeth Le Bay room on the first floor.

If you require any extra assistance, both the Medik8 team and South Lodge staff will be more than happy to help. We will be located all around the premises, so please do not hesitate to approach us at any time. 

We hope you enjoy Medik8 Connect and your stay at South Lodge.