Press & Communications

22 Oct 2012

A Service to dedicate a Memorial to Octavia Hill (1838-1912) and to give thanks for the work of the National Trust was held at Westminster Abbey today at 12 noon in the centenary year of the death of Octavia Hill, the leading social reformer and co-founder of the National Trust.

The service was attended by the Lord Mayor of Westminster, Simon Jenkins, Chairman, National Trust, and Dame Fiona Reynolds, Director-General, National Trust, as well as members, supporters, staff and volunteers from the National Trust.

In his Bidding, the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, said: ‘We come to honour Octavia Hill and to give thanks to God for her life, for her energy, for her care: to recall her role in founding the National Trust and to celebrate the vigorous growth of the sapling she helped to plant; to unveil and dedicate a permanent memorial in stone to her life and work.’ 

Simon Jenkins read an extract from Space for the People by Octavia Hill. Testimonies were read by Wyn Davies, Warden, Dinefwr, National Trust and Julia Bradbury, Broadcaster, walker and winner of the People’s Champion Octavia Hill Award 2012. Robert Macfarlane, writer, read Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth.

Simon Jenkins unveiled the Memorial Stone which has been laid in the Nave of Westminster Abbey.

Jessie Binns, Visitor Experience Officer, Borrowdale, National Trust read: Isaiah 61: 4-11 and James Grasby, Curator, National Trust read: Revelation 21: 9-14, 22-25, 22: 1-2.

The Address was given by Dame Fiona Reynolds.

Prayers were led by The Reverend Dr James Hawkey, Minor Canon and Sacrist, and said by Sylvia Warman-James, tenant and Board Member of Octavia Housing, Gillian Darley, biographer of Octavia Hill and National Trust council member, Peter Nixon, Director of Conservation, National Trust, Sarah Staniforth, Museums and Collections Director, National Trust, Valerie Humphrey, National Trust Council Member and Royal Oak Foundation Board Director and Paul Manners, Chair, Learning and Engagement Panel, National Trust.

Sir Laurie Magnus, Deputy Chairman, National Trust read A Bay in Anglesey by Sir John Betjeman.

The service was sung by the Westminster Abbey Special Service Choir conducted by James O’Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers. The organ was played by Robert Quinney, Sub-Organist.  

The memorial stone, designed and crafted by Rory Young, measures 600mm x 600mm and is made of Purbeck marble.

Octavia Hill founded the National Trust in 1895 with Sir Robert Hunter and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley. They were concerned about the impact of uncontrolled development and industrialisation and set up the Trust ‘for the protection of the public interests in the open spaces of the country.’ Octavia Hill also played a pivotal role in the housing reform movement and had a lifelong passion for learning and welfare.

See also:

The Order of Service (PDF, 95 KB)

National Trust Website 

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