As tomorrow is International Women’s Day and in keeping with my aim of writing more about the women of Sevenoaks and their contribution during the First World War, this weekend’s posts honour some of those local women, from all walks of life, who made a difference. Marjorie Crosbie Hill was one of these. Born in Sutton, Surrey, in 1887, Marjorie was the daughter of William Samuel James Hill and his wife Elizabeth Mary Crosbie. William and Elizabeth had married in Islington in 1871. By 1891 they had moved to Sevenoaks, where William became a prominent resident and JP, and were recorded in that year’s census living at The Red House, once the home of Francis Austen, an uncle of Jane Austen and now the premises of local solicitors, Knocker & Foskett. The census shows Marjorie at home with five siblings, a governess and three servants. Later the family moved to 50, High Street and by 1911, Marjorie was living with her widowed father at 2, South Park. During the war, Marjorie, who was a Christian Scientist, worked organising and running canteens and clubs for workers at the munitions factories, for the Young Women’s Christian Association. She was awarded the OBE for this war work in early 1918 and this photo was taken around that time.
Marjorie Crosbie Hill
Marjorie’s niece, Jane Ashmore, recalled:
‘My aunt, at one time, lived next door but one to the old Post Office on return from running two kitchen’s for munitions workers, for which she was decorated. After World War Two, she built herself a house in Burntwood Road, called Tussocks, (her tiny little beech hedge is now huge). Also, she was a well known golfer, belonging to the Knole Club (where she was Lady Captain in 1925 and 1930).’
Marjorie later lived at Stone Street near Sevenoaks and died, aged 80, in 1967. Her elder sister, Barbara, had married Sir James Masterton Smith, who was Private Secretary to successive First Lords of the Admiralty, including Winston Churchill.
Jane Ashmore’s brother and Marjorie’s nephew, Philip Sydney Crosbie Hill, was born in 1917. He was in India, tea-planting in Assam when the Second World War broke out, and immediately applied for service in the Indian Army. He was an Officer Cadet, undergoing training in the Royal Bombay Sapper and Miners when he was killed in a motor accident in 1941. He is remembered on the Sevenoaks War Memorial.
Jane herself wrote ration books during the Second World War and later joined the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (Princess Royal’s Volunteer Corps). I was fortunate to be able to speak to Jane last year to talk to her about her memories of her aunt and brother and was saddened to learn that she died in January aged 95.