Elizabeth Jane Cecil Hill
26th Feb 1925 – 25th August 2013
Elizabeth Jane Cecil Hill was born on the 26th February 1925 at Lynchmere near Guildford into what one can only describe as a non hunting family. Jane’s father was a Naval Commander who after the War went on to become an engineer with Rolls Royce. Whilst Jane’s mother’s maiden name was Purkis, a well known sporting name in the New Forest going back many generations, it would appear however that neither family had any previous involvement in the chase. This though was all set to change when the activities of both horse and hound entered into her life and it was hunting that certainly brought her a huge amount of satisfaction and pleasure in the coming years.
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Jane initially trained as a radiologist at the Middlesex Hospital before moving down to Boscombe in Dorset. It was whilst she was working in Bournemouth Hospital that Jane met Ralph Hill, a government scientist who designed radios for the army. At that time the bug must have bitten and with memories of being taught as a child to ride by the Kings Trainer, it was not long before hunting and a little point to pointing was to take hold. In 1958 Ralph was to become Joint Master of the New Forest Foxhounds, initially with Col and Mrs East and then with Bridget Scott who went on to join probably one of our country’s most knowledgeable hound breeders Sir Newton Rycroft. In 1962 Ralph relinquished his duties as a Joint Master, only for Jane to take up the role as Hunt Secretary in 1963. This was a position she held for many years and one which she much enjoyed, especially as Ralph, although no longer in the Mastership had carried on as Field Master to Sir Newton, who in his own particular style was making a real success of hunting the hounds.
As well as fulfilling the role of Secretary Jane also managed to make time to bring up five sons, Peter, John, Nick, Mark, and Oliver as well as walking numerous foxhound and beagle puppies! The hunting gene, it would appear, seemed to come out most strongly in Mark and Oliver, with both of them devoting their lives to the sport in a most considerable and meaningful way. Whilst Mark was Master of the Marlborough College Beagles he would often bring them back home to Burley for the holidays and at the time was known to venture as far as Hertfordshire and Essex in pursuit of the hare!
During her term as Secretary, Jane became immensely popular with those who lived and worked in the New Forest, especially the Keepers who thought the world of her. Graham Wilson, one of the more senior, said there was great mutual respect for each other. As well as this, they equally shared a passion for the Forest and its traditions and hunting of course, be it with the Foxhounds or the Buckhounds, was very much part of this. When Jane became unable to drive, it was wonderful that they ensured that she was still able to follow her beloved New Forest Hounds. This was something the family will never forget and for this they will always be indebted to them. To see them represented at her Memorial Service with Graham Wilson in Forest Livery, summed up the feelings of the New Forest Keepers for this wonderful lady in a most memorable and moving way.
Lastly and by no means least, we must never forget the sense of duty Jane felt towards her home village of Burley. Whether it was delivering Meals on Wheels or driving for the over seventies, Jane could always be relied on for help or support as needed. So it is in her passing that we remember her for being the most wonderful example of a truly Christian lady. She was someone who served her community in a way that only Elizabeth Jane Cecil Hill knew how, and that was always to put others first. I am sure there are many who will agree from Burley and other parts of the New Forest, that it was a real privilege to have known her. May she rest in peace in the knowledge of a job truly well done. Elizabeth Jane Hill’s commitment to us all will last long in our memory.