Surprisingly, the first meeting of the group was convened at the White Horse Hotel in Dorking. Thus the Society of Sussex Wealdmen began in the heart of Surrey in 1926 !
They considered calling themselves the 'Anderida' club but later devised the 'Society of Sussex Wealdmen' with 'Sylva Anderida' as the motto on the their badge. Early support for the fledgling society came from the recently formed Society of Sussex Downsmen.
Walks were to be held every fortnight on a Sunday, 21 members joined the inaugural 12 mile walk which was also in Surrey ! Early walks were held in the ratio of 2 on the Weald to 1 on the Downs, with the programme showing the same leader for all the walks, distances of walks only began to appear in 1948 ! During its first year there were 33 walks covering 450 miles with an average attendance of 16. Membership continued to grow and the Society became involved in footpath mapping in Horsham and surrounding parishes. This led to requests for footpath and bridleway clearance, most notably from Lord Winterton MP and pleas to Horsham Council that they should restore pedestrian and equestrian routes.
A rule was introduced that excluded dogs from walks which is still in existence
In the 1930's membership fell but social events became weekly and were well attended, walking trips away were also introduced. Significantly, in 1933 it was decided to award a walking stick to the lady and gentleman completing the highest number of walks in a calendar year, thus was born the 'Stick Competition' which continues to the present day.
Over the years our membership has hovered between 75 and 100 and we get a varied mix of members, currently averaging around ten, out on our walks. Location and terrain are deciding factors for some of our walkers, and there is no obligation to turn out. We're always pleased to welcome new members and we invite guests to join us on one or two initial walks to see if we're the sort of walking club they are looking for.
In 2016, after 90 years as 'Wealdmen' we reviewed the title and purpose of the group, deciding Sunday was still the main day but wishing to find a more inclusive title. Hence Sussex Sunday Walkers, still walking every Sunday, mostly, but not exclusively in Sussex.
The title 'Society of Sussex Wealdmen' has been retained as it is the traditional name of the group for legal and formal purposes.