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1936: The passing of Anstye resident, Harry Preston 'one of the most notable personalities in sport'

Updated: Sep 27, 2020

Western Mail - Friday 14 August 1936



Death of Famous Sports Patron who RAISED £100,000 FOR HOSPITALS

Sir Harry Preston, friend of princes and millionaires, and one of the most notable personalities in the world of sport, died at Brighton on Thursday. Sir Harry, who was 76, had been seriously ill for some weeks. The Western Mail & South Wales News was informed that he passed peacefully away at 5.45 p.m., in the presence of members of the family.

Sir Harry entered a London nursing home at the end of June, and underwent an operation. Towards the end of July he became seriously ill and was given a blood transfusion by Capt. Ernest Chandler, former amateur heavyweight boxing champion and an old friend. During his illness his courage never failed him.

He was cheered by the kindly thoughts of his hundreds of friends throughout the world. Capt. Chandler is himself lying seriously ill at Brighton, suffering from blood poisoning which, it was stated at his home on Thursday, he had developed since he gave the blood transfusion which it was hoped would save Sir Harry's life.

Sir Harry Preston

It was Sir Harry's amazing flair for acting as "mine host" that brought him into touch with the important people of his day. They passed through the doors of his hotel at Brighton as his guests, and In turn were host to him at their own notable gatherings.

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 18 August 1936


Sir Harry Preston. “the companion of princes bosom friend of bishops and the counsellor of prize-fighters,” died at the Royal Albion Hotel. Brighton, on Thursday evening at the age of 76. Lady Preston and her sister. Miss Beatrice Collings, together with Mrs. Willard and Miss Nancy Preston (Sir Harry’s daughters by his first and second marriage) were with him at the end. Sir Harry, who underwent a serious operation six years ago and had periodical recurrences of the trouble, was taken ill early this summer, and when a blood transfusion became necessary it was his friend. Captain Ernest Chandler, the former amateur heavy-weight champion, who offered his blood. Captain Chandler was taken seriously ill with blood poisoning soon afterwards, as the slight wound became infected, and died on Sunday morning at the age 45—only three days after the death of Sir Harry Preston.

One of the most famous personalities in the world of sport, Sir Harry started out in the world as a pupil teacher in Lewisham. Subsequently he became a shipping clerk at the London'Docks, and then made a success of a dockland inn. It was nearly 40 years ago that he moved to Brighton, where became known as


At the old Royal York Hotel and the Royal Albion Hotel, he entertained princes, peers, politicians, pugilists, stage folk, sportsmen, and. one occasion at least, a religious leader. While at Brighton. Sir Harry raised over £100.000 for hospitals. Mr. Jack Callaghan, the Brighton boxing promoter, who for the past years had been associated with Sir Harry in the management of the boxing tournaments by which the famous sportsman raised so many thousands for charity has declared his intention of carrying on the good work where his old friend laid it down. “I think,” Mr. Callaghan says, “that this is the finest memorial that can be given one who was above all, a great sportsman”.

Sir Harry's knighthood was conferred on him in 1933 for his services to charity and sport.

Just after her husband's death. Lady Preston learned that Fred Brown, who for 24 years was hall porter at the Royal Albion Hotel, had died only few hours before his old master.


Nowhere was the news of Sir Harry's death received with greater regret than by the residents of the hamlet of Ansty near Cuckfield where he had had a charming country residence, known as Apple Tree Cottage, Ansty Lane, for the past twenty years. The house is filled with treasures, including many gifts from well-known people who claimed Sir Harry among their friends. Attached to the residence are about twelve acres of grounds, tastefully laid out as lawns and flower beds, with hard and grass tennis courts. Nothing delighted Sir Harry Preston more than to spend a quiet day or two in this rural retreat with his dogs and Shetland ponies, and the cottage has been visited by prominent people in all walks of life. Sir Harry was a Vice-President of the Ansty Men’s Social Club and Cricket Club.

The funeral service is fixed for 2.15 p.m, to-day (Tuesday) at Brighton Parish Church. The interment will follow at Cuckfield cemetery about 3.30 p.m.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Wednesday 19 August 1936



The funeral at Brighton yesterday of Sir Harry Preston was the occasion of a great popular tribute. The streets were lined by thousands of people.. Crowds surrounded the Parish Church and the congregation there was representative of all grades of society.

Mr. J. H. Thomas, old friend of Sir Harry, and Mrs Thomas were present. Sir Kingsley Wood, Minister of Health. Lord Decles and representatives of various sporting organisations with which Sir Harry had been associated also attended. The service was conducted by the Vicar of Brighton (Canon J. C. H. Hall) and the lesson was read by the Bishop of Lewes.

Canon R. J. Campbell, Chancellor of Chichester Cathedral, in a tribute to Sir Harry said. “We are bidding farewell to-day to one of the most remarkable personalities of our time. Harry Preston was regarded with respect and affection by men and women of every class of society, not least by the poor and suffering for whom he did so much through his service for the hospitals.

"There is a mournful saying that no one whose little day Is done this world Is ever missed for very long. On the whole that !s true, but there are exceptions. Harry Preston will never be forgotten or cease to live In the hearts of those who had the privilege of being numbered among his friends."

From Brighton the coffin was conveyed to Cuckfield, where the interment took place. The route to the graveside was lined by hundreds of local residents. There were over 400 floral tributes, and these covered the greater part of the churchyard.

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