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Sir Alexander Harris

Sir Alexander Harris, C.M.G., C.B., C.V.O., K.C.M.G.
So much is written about the roles that Stanley (SSH) and Dick or ‘Harry’ Harris (WBH) played in the Saint Ronan’s story that their father’s part can become overlooked. Born Charles Alexander Harris on 28th June, 1855, he was educated at Richmond School in Yorkshire (Head Boy) and Christ’s College, Cambridge (1st in Classics) and then qualified for the bar at Lincoln’s Inn. He entered the Colonial Office in 1879, rising to become Governor of Newfoundland from 1917-22. He was appointed Governor-General of Australia but turned it down as his wife was too delicate to travel. He had the distinction of being honoured by three monarchs: C.M.G. 1900 (Queen Victoria), C.B. 1904, (Edward VII), M.V.O. 1911, C.V.C. 1917, K.C.M.G. 1917 (George V). He retired in 1922 and died in 1947, at the grand old age of 91.

Despite his illustrious career, he was not a wealthy man and had to borrow the money to pay for SSH and WBH to go up to Cambridge. In 1909, the chance came for SSH to buy Saint Ronan’s from the Reverend Crick. At that stage the school was almost unknown and only had 35 pupils. SSH, aged just 28, struggled to raise the funds required. It was then that his father stepped in and pledged all that he had, including his life policies, as security against a loan. To meet the loan repayments, the school would need to double in size within a few years. Sir Alexander was therefore taking a gamble but his act of faith was justified – the numbers did quickly increase and the mortgage was paid off over a number of years. Saint Ronan’s was thus truly a family venture. Towards the end of his life, Sir Alexander came down to Hawkhurst and approved the new Saint Ronan’s before WBH decided on it in 1945. To the end he was as enthusiastic as ever about the School and its doings. When he was very ill, his daughter Armorel read him one of WBH’s last letters and he remarked ‘It doesn’t matter about the Ping-Pong so long as they won the boxing’.


Sir Charles Alexander Harris

Sir Charles Alexander Harris

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