TIVERTON PREEDY (1863 - 1928)

The founder of the Ashdown Club

In the 1901 Census there is an entry for a  Tiverton Preedy "Clergyman - Clerkenwell Church of England - age 38".  He had been at the All Saints Mission for five years. He was not a very tall man 5ft 5" and he had a rather benign appearance. However he was a very good boxer, and in 1906 he erected a boxing ring in the crypt under the Mission Hall. It was used by the likes of Matt Wells, Dick Smith and Pat O'Keefe in preparing for their serious championship fights. Matt Wells was the first boxer to represent Great Britain at the Olympics in 1908.  In later years Len Harvey worked out there. Terry Allen who was later to become world flyweight champion had his boyhood lessons in the gym. Overseeing the gym was Father Preedy. An article written after his death noted "one look at Preedy's steely eyes, the stocky figure and the rock-like fists which he was always prepared to put up without even removing his "dog's collar" made it clear that he was not a man to trifle with"


Whilst boxing always played  a big part in the All Saints Mission it was wrestling which brought it real fame As a tribute to his friend and helper the Earl of Craven, Father Preedy named the club after the Earls estate at Ashdown Park, Shrivenham, Berkshire. The Ashdown Club was the premier wrestling club in the country at the time. Eight of the twelve wrestlers that were chosen to represent Great Britain in the Paris Olympics of 1924 were members of the Ashdown Club. One of them, George MacKenzie represented Great Britain in five Olympics between 1908-1928 (shades of Steve Redgrave). He then officiated at a further four and in 1956 in Melbourne he was chosen to carry the Union Jack at the Opening Ceremony. The Ashdown Club was an outstanding success. 

There is a cutting from a newspaper (date unknown) that shows that Father Preedy had other talents as well


The Rev. Tiverton Preedy curate-in-charge of All Saints Mission Hall, White-Lion Street, Pentonville is a versatile churchman. He boxes, he is willing to challenge any young man in the district to a bout with the gloves; and all the flower girls in Islington and Pentonville simply adore "Father Preedy"

As a lady representative of the "Morning Leader" at the Mission hall watched the merry feet of the flower girls tripping to infectious music, a wan faced young woman gently plucked at her sleeve "Lidy, would yer 'old me biby w'ile I'ev a dance!"

The baby, of course, was taken over and was quite good whilst the mother danced with her friends. To and fro, to and fro, a curious mixture of the Irish jig, the cakewalk and the can-can these supple figures danced quicker, more quicker still. The curate at the piano pushed his biretta back and settled down to hard work. And the flying feet went more quickly than ever. When the music ceased and the girls flocked out into the street again struggling to sell their wares, it was easy to explain their affection for Father Preedy" 

The following cutting is from The Times dated Tuesday 7th November 1899

In recognition of his great work and devotion over many years in the area Father Preedy was appointed a Prebendary of St Pauls Cathedral in 1926. He was an exceptionally popular person in the area and this is shown in the letter from Fulham Palace (pdf file) that was sent to Father Preedy offering him the Prebend. It was a rare distinction for a unbeneficed priest

In the last year of his life Tiverton suffered from chronic heart disease and on 28th April 1928 Father Preedy died in his sleep at the age of 65. As a mark of respect the local market was shut on the day of the funeral and thousands turned out to pay their respects to a man who had been an integral and well loved member of the local community for over thirty years. It must have been a moving occasion. The funeral was held at the Mission Hall and was conducted by the Bishop of London. There is a short transcript of the sermon that was read at the service.  Afterwards, Father Preedy was interred at Islington Cemetery . The Church Times dated 27th April 1928 gave a fulsome tribute to the life and deeds of Tiverton Preedy


There was also an obituary in The Daily Telegraph dated 26th April 1928


But even this was surpassed by a report of his funeral that took place on the previous Monday. The report is again from The Church Times and is dated 4th May 1928


Photograph courtesy of The BBS

In April 2010 I was contacted by the daughter of Tiverton's executor who kindly told me the following


In December 2010, I discovered an Obituary for Tiverton in an edition of "The Bloxhamist" dated July 1928.(Bloxham was Tiverton's old school)

I started out this article just wanting to know what became of the match ball that was used in the 1912 F.A.Cup Final, the only Cup Final to be played in Sheffield. Even though he had left Barnsley sixteen years earlier in 1896, Father Preedy's legacy to the club must have been formidable and long lasting. He was the guest of honour at the post match banquet held at the Clarence Hotel and was presented with the match ball as a tribute by the club to its founder. For many years, it was kept on a stand in his study at the Mission Hall but Father Preedy requested that it be returned to Barnsley F.C. on his death.  Mr John Davies, his executor carried out his wishes and the ball was returned to Barnsley Football Club.

The letter below is acknowledgement of the return of the ball and a guarantee that the ball will be kept in safe custody.


The Daily Telegraph Football Chronicle (1995)

Barnsley's Sporting Heroes' by Annie Storey (Wharncliffe Publishing 1997)

The Official History of Barnsley Football Club 1887 - 1979 - Grenville Firth

Walter Bartleman (pdf file)


The Church Times dated 27th April 1928

The Church Times dated 4th May 1928

The Daily Telegraph dated 26th April 1928

The Bloxhamist" dated July 1928

I would like to place on record the help and assistance given to me by Father Shaun Richards of St Silas's Church Pentonville London - it was greatly appreciated. And also Mr Bob Davenport for the reports from The Church Times

Notes :

1. Prebend - The right of a member of a chapter to his share in the revenues of the cathedral; also the share to which he is entitled; in general, any portion of the cathedral revenues set aside for the support of the clergy attached to it (semi-prebends) even for those who are not members of the chapter. They are regarded as benefices and governed by the same laws.

2. George MacKenzie (1890-1956) was a wrestler from Islington. Mackenzie became British lightweight champion in 1909, winning the title again in 1912, 1922, 1924, 1932, and 1941. Additionally, he held the featherweight title in 1921 and 1922. He lost the title to W Schneeberger in 1923, but regained the title in 1924. He was a leading member and coach of the Pentonville -based Ashdown Club, the premier British wrestling association of the period. Mackenzie competed in the 1908 Olympics, finishing fourth. He competed in four further Olympics in total, up to 1928. He officiated at an additional four, and was chosen to carry the UK flag in the opening ceremony of the 1952 Olympics. He died of lung cancer in 1956 (from Wikipedia).

3. In March 2008, I was informed that all Tiverton's brothers are buried in Hitchen in Hertfordshire including his curate brother CHARLES PREEDY who died in 1936 at the age of 80.

4. In April 2013 I received the following e-mail from a researcher who had come across this article

"I came across your website quite by chance I have been research the history of Waltham Street Barnsley mainly because of the stories my parent used to tell and living there in the 50s. I was born in Barnsley in 1949 in Waltham Street the street opposite the Dove Inn I lived at No 6 Waltham St and my bedroom window overlooked St Peters Church This was the church we all attended in those days Sunday school and morning mass. I have seen father Preedy’s name many times when I was younger but never knew the significance of it. The church at that time was only locked on a night and we could wonder in and out at our will and as children it was a magical place

My father was 50 when I was born and he always told me the story of the football team being started in Waltham Street This was a huge street with courts and yards with houses and more than one family living in the small terrace houses. I never really believed him but with the number of miners living in that street and what I have learnt on your site it now seem credible. The Dove Inn was one of the local pubs for the men of that street The Rising Sun was at the top and the Dove at the Bottom. My mother lived in the street from being 3 years old up to the age of 72 when the houses were demolished. Her brothers all miners were born there

I don’t know if you know but Tommy Taylor that was killed in the Munich air disaster was born in the next street King Street" 

4. In May 2018 I was contacted by the archivist at the Roehampton Club in London who had used the material in this article for a Club publication.

This is the article


 The sports pages in the newspapers have recently featured the relegation of this famous football club which will be playing next season in the third tier of the professional game. No one would have been more disappointed at this news than the Reverend Tiverton Preedy who had done so much to start the Club and secure the land on which the Oakwell Stadium exists today. Preedy joined the Roehampton Club 110 years ago as an Ordinary Member in May 1908. His application form refers to his occupation as a Priest at the All Saints Mission in Pentonville, North London and was one of several members of the cloth at the Club during this time. The background to his life and his passionate belief in the use of sport as part of his religious teaching was unearthed from research undertaken by Yorkshire based historian, Chris Hobbs, who has kindly given permission for the use of his work in this article. Chris began his journey looking into the origins of the only ever FA Cup football final played in Sheffield in 1912 and discovered the name of Tiverton Preedy who was the guest of honour at this event and was also presented with the match ball in the post-match celebrations. The match itself was played at Bramall Lane, home to Sheffield United FC and was a replay of the first game played at Selhurst Park in London which had finished without a goal being scored. Barnsley won the replay with a single goal and remains today as the only time they have won the FA Cup. This must have been a proud moment for the Reverend Tiverton Preedy and the culmination of his exhaustive efforts which began in 1887 with the formation of Barnsley St Peters FC. This was his way of engaging with the working classes in an area which predominantly played Rugby. It was his time at the Lincoln Theological College prior to his ordination that Preedy was influenced by Edward Benson, teacher at Rugby School which had become known as the Cathedral of muscular Christianity where sport was used to reinforce moral upbringing and the education of young people. Shortly after the founding of Barnsley St Peters and acquiring the nickname of ‘the Saints’, Preedy moved to London in 1893 and by 1898 the Club had changed its name to Barnsley Football Club and had established its home at the Oakwell site which Preedy had previously arranged. Arriving in London, Reverend Preedy was initially appointed at St Clements, Kings Square Islington before relocating to the All Saints Mission in Pentonville described at the time as ‘one of the most unlovely spots in London’. The Mission House had been provided by Captain Charles Penton whose family name was incorporated in the naming of Pentonville and the surrounding area. The area was populated by low paid workers involved as fruit sellers or flower sellers and the Reverend Preedy again used sport to make them part of his congregation with the setting up of a boxing ring and billiard tables. Preedy became an accomplished boxer in his own right and although he was only 5 feet 5 inches tall, he could adopt a threatening pose and sometimes used his fists when the occasion demanded. Reportedly, he would sometimes use his boxing skills against any man drinking to excess and squandering the family wage packet in the local pubs. All this good work with the poor would not have been possible without funding from the richer members of society and may well account for his membership at the Roehampton Club where sympathetic donors were more likely to have been found. So, when you next hear the name of Barnsley Football Club, Roehampton Club members can take pride in the pioneering efforts of this religious man and his contribution to sporting history." 

As well as giving me permission to reproduce the article the Club kindly allowed me to include a copy of Tiverton's original application form


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This page was last updated on 13/10/18 15:10