Wounded service men, Hospital Clock Tower, Preston Hall, circa 1919
Home for wounded servicemen
The Hall was sold to Robert Horner of Spitalfields in 1906 but remained unoccupied, and in 1907 Robert Sauber took up residence. With the coming of the Great War in 1914, Robert Sauber’s widow, Madame Sauber let, and later gifted the Hall to the Red Cross for use as a hospital and convalescent home for wounded servicemen and built a reputation for the treatment of those suffering with tuberculosis (which was endemic in the trenches during the War). With the end of hostilities, the estate was briefly owned by the Leeds Fireclay Company Limited before being sold to Industrial Settlements Incorporated in 1919.
At the end of the Great War, 55,000 people were discharged from the military with Tuberculosis and of those, it was estimated that 18,000 died as a result of returning to inner-city housing.
A group of high ranking army officers recognised the need for Preston Hall to continue as a centre for the treatment of Tuberculosis and formed Industrial Settlements Incorporated to acquire the Preston Hall estate to establish a sanatorium, training colony and village settlement. Industrial Settlements Incorporated purchased the estate from Leeds Fireclay Company in 1919 for £30,000. The estate became known as the Preston Hall Colony.
By 1925 the number of patients at the Colony had dwindled greatly and the need was recognised to pass the running of the whole operation over to a larger organisation. By this time the British Legion had been established for 4 years and it agreed to take over the Colony from the 1st April 1925. One of its most notable patients was George Orwell who was treated in 1937.
With the threat of the Second World War, Preston Hall Hospital was put at the disposal of the Government in July 1939 and with the coming of the National Health Service, Preston Hall itself was passed to the local health board.
Retaining many of the historical features to offer stunning spacious homes
In 1971, as part of the British Legion’s 50th Anniversary celebration, the Queen granted the Legion the prefix “Royal” and so the Village also took the prefix “Royal” - Royal British Legion Village.
To take advantage of Government funding and other benefits, much of the housing owned by the Royal British Legion on the estate was incorporated into the Royal British Legion Housing Association. Between 1983 and 2012 the Hall was used as the headquarters of the Maidstone Health Authority.
The site was finally acquired by Weston Homes Plc in 2014 who are now proud to be part of history and return Preston Hall back to the original residential use of the mansion, retaining many of the historical features to offer stunning spacious homes with imposing architecture that combine history with all the facilities required for modern living.