Obituary: Revd David Hill

Revd David Hill
(OC 1943-1952)

Died 5 January 2023, aged 88

The Revd David Hill was a well-known parish priest in south Lincolnshire, and founder of St Martin Vestment.

He was born on 3 April 1934 in Sanderstead, Surrey. An only child, he was adventurous and imaginative. A Queen’s Scout, he cycled widely in Northern Europe as a teenager. After Caterham School (1943-52), he gained a degree in economics from University College, London. National Service with the RASC in the UK followed, after which he trained for the priesthood at Queen’s College, Birmingham.

Ordained on 20 December 1959, his curacies were in Southwark diocese, at Holy Trinity, Upper Tooting, St Dunstan’s, Cheam, and St Matthias’s, Richmond. He moved to Lincolnshire and served as Vicar of Lutton and Gedney Drove End, and at St Mary’s, Pinchbeck, including West Pinchbeck. David published his autobiography, Over the Hill, in 2014.

In his Cheam curacy, he met Jane Perkins. Their first dates included outings to Sadler’s Wells and Glyndebourne, pointers to the future part that music played throughout their family life. They married on 1 December 1962. At Lutton, Jane was a teacher, and served for a period as acting head. The couple had four children: Emma, Matthew, Zoe, and Candida. Candida’s death from a brain tumour in 2012 brought great sadness.

In the isolated dyke-veined flats of the Wash, and armed with Christian conviction, an entrepreneurial character, a great capacity for friendship, and a range of skills, including touch-typing and woodwork, David learned to navigate the social structures of the countryside and devoted his great — and sometimes mischievous — energies to his parishioners. His imaginative confirmation trips for Lutton children included visits to an Isle of Dogs council estate, an Armenian church, Harrods, a maternity ward, and a crematorium. In 1971, he made national news with his independent postal service during the national postal strike, which paid for a new church boiler.

With his bishop’s permission, David founded St Martin Vestment, and built a local workforce to make church vestments, pulpit falls, and altar frontals. Parishioners modelled for the catalogues. Clients included Lincoln and Ely Cathedrals and the Church of Scotland, several African bishops, the National Memorial Arboretum at Lichfield, the first generations of women clergy, the National Theatre’s Racing Demon, and numerous Church Times readers.

In 1982, David became Vicar of St Mary’s, Pinchbeck, and, from 1990, West Pinchbeck. He was in his element there, and proved the model parish priest. David was a man of great encouragement, resourcefulness, and friendship. People recall his positive leadership and preaching, conduct of the rites of passage, and his parish visiting.

With Jane as choir leader, the music was of a high standard. David spoke weekly at the village school and the couple sang regularly with local choirs. They regularly entertained in the gracious Georgian vicarage. In retirement, they joined St Mary and St Nicholas, Spalding, and continued to throw themselves into the life of the area.

In May 2020, Jane suffered a stroke. During Covid, David visited as much as was possible until her death in September that year. He faced her decline with stoicism. He had neither fear of death nor doubt of the life to come. These convictions were the theme of his final sermon at Spalding, before leaving for Berkhamsted in 2021. Click here to view David’s valedictory sermon:

Obituary written by Revd Dr Peter C Jupp in The Church Times