Obituary:Professor Rosalind Hill
Monday 03 February 1997
Also notable was the help and support she gave to other scholars - in public office as Secretary (1963-73) and President (1973-74) of the Ecclesiastical History Society and Editor and Chairman of the Canterbury and York Society; as a member of the seminars on the Crusades at the Institute of Historical Research, which she greatly relished and which she continued to attend until a few weeks ago; and by the quiet encouragement which so many enjoyed.
In her teaching she brought her own research to life: and her third special interest, in the world of Bede, enabled her to lead her pupils over the Northumbrian hills. She loved the north of England - and any mountainous country so long as she could walk in it: she excused herself from my own inaugural lecture at Cambridge (as she approached 70) owing to a prior engagement to walk in the Himalayas.
Rosalind Hill's parents were Sir Norman and Mary Hill; her father was a leading Merseyside solicitor, a notable figure in the Liverpool shipping world. In his later years he acquired a substantial house on the edge of Stockbridge in Hampshire, where Rosalind Hill herself preserved ancient tradition, when she inherited the title of Lady of the Manor, by holding the manorial court each year and sorting out local difficulties, which included geese wandering on the common marsh by the River Test. Her generosity to Stockbridge is commemorated in Rosalind Hill House, a home for elderly residents of the village.
She studied history at St Hilda's College, Oxford, and taught briefly at University College, Leicester (as it then was), where (Sir) John Plumb was among her first pupils.
In 1937 she was summoned to Westfield College, London, by a telegram from the Principal, and at Westfield she worked - and also at the Institute of Historical Research in Bloomsbury - till she retired as Professor of History, after a notable spell of service as Vice-Principal, in 1976. She continued to take a deep interest in the college. She had known and preferred it as a relatively small college for women students; but she accepted its transformation - when it became a mixed community in the mid-Sixties, and then (after her retirement) was joined to Queen Mary College - with a good grace, giving a helping hand to reconcile the alumni of Westfield to these changes.
For many of her friends the house in Radlett, Hertfordshire, where she lived with two colleagues - latterly one, Gwen Chambers, a former Finance Officer at Westfield, who cared marvellously for her in the infirmities of her final years - was an epitome of the Westfield of history.
The union of enthusiasm and the warmth and charm and kindness which all who came near her felt explains the spell she cast over many generations of students. She combined these qualities with discipline - some to the students, for she could correct the erring geese of Westfield as well as those of Stockbridge; but much more to herself: in regular preparation, sheer hard work, and a punctuality sometimes disconcerting to those less disciplined. Nothing ever interfered with this regularity, save an unhappy student or a sick animal.
In a delicious way, her devotion to animals and to the Middle Ages are combined in Both Small and Great Beasts (1953), a pamphlet exploding many myths about the medieval treatment of animals, which she and the great cartoonist Fougasse conspired to write for the University Federation for Animal Welfare. Quite without sentimentality, brimful of humour, yet barely hiding a great depth of feeling and humanity.
Rosalind Mary Theodosia Hill, historian: born 14 November 1908; Lecturer in History, Westfield College 1937-55; Reader in History, London University 1955-71; Professor of History 1971- 76 (Emerita); died Radlett, Hertfordshire 11 January 1997.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...
£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...