14th January 1935 – 13th May 2013
Hilary was born and bred in Lincolnshire and dedicated her life to it. With her family she moved about the county to experience life in cold and draughty rectories, the last one being at Algakirk, when her father was the Bishop of Grimsby. School days over, Hilary entered Lincoln College of Art and completed her ATD to become a teacher and held a post as teacher of Art at Spalding Girls’ High School. She was very much a Lincolnshire daughter, even to the extent of visiting Lincoln for a holiday.
In the later 1960’s, Hilary’s lifestyle changed completely when she switched to a career in archaeology to work with the Lincolnshire Archaeology Units and was also involved with The Heritage Trust for Lincolnshire. She was one of Mrs. Ethel Rudkin’s protégées. Hilary worked with her on her digs and her research into medieval pottery kilns in the Toynton and Bolingbroke areas; becoming an expert in this field. It is no doubt true to say that the Rudkin mantle fell upon Hilary. She was ever willing to help others find their way around the heritage of their areas of the county. Many will recall receiving from Hilary snippets of information, guidance to find out more and encouragement to publish. There were few areas of Lincolnshire on which Hilary did not have knowledge – whether archaeology, buildings, history or people – her knowledge of Lincolnshire was vast.
Hilary was an active member of Lincolnshire Local History Society, to become the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology in 1974. She first appears as a member of the executive in 1967 and her name was on that list ever since. Sometimes it was as an elected member and always as a representative of one or more committees. If that was not enough, she has been associated with the publications of the Society, being joint editor of Lincolnshire Past and Present, initially with Terence Leach from the first issue in 1990, then with Chris Sturman and finally with Ros Beevers until the present time. In 1974 SLHA became a member of the Council for British Archaeology and Hilary was appointed as the representative to attend meetings in London and elsewhere.
All this would be enough for most active people but Hilary had time to use her drawing skills to illustrate Fenland scenes, capturing the essence of this special landscape. These skills are to be enjoyed in many local publications. There was regularly a sketch on the first page of Past and Present. Her own publications are few, like her Fenland Glossary, but her contribution to a wide range of books, essays and magazines is endless. Her book on Pinchbeck Mills is ready for the printers, but sadly too late for her to enjoy it.
Hilary, like Terence Leach and Ethel Rudkin, is a great loss to Lincolnshire. Individuals, as well as history and heritage groups, have lost a willing friend, one who was always prepared to go that extra mile – literally driving all over the county –to help, give talks, advice and support projects. Hilary was very humble, never seeking glory and never wanting any recognition for anything she did. It is now, looking back, that we realise, in Tom Lane’s words, we had a treasure – a Lincolnshire treasure. We extend our sympathy to her sister Ana.