Tim Hall: 1953 – 2024

We are sorry to announce that Tim Hall has passed away. The following obituary is courtesy of George’s friend and fellow Trinity Hall alumnus.

Timothy Sherwin Hall, known to all as Tim Hall, died in Devon on 25 January 2024 aged 70.  He had come up in 1972 to read History.

Tim was born on 16 April 1953, the eldest of three children of Sherwin Hall, a vet in government service, and his wife Jenefer, née Monro, later to be college nurse at Murray Edwards in its New Hall days.  Descent from the Monro dynasty of patrons of the British School of watercolourists was important to Tim.  That they were also physicians to Bethlem (Bedlam) was a much lesser consideration.  Harold Monro, poet and proprietor of the Poetry Bookshop, would also have been a distant kinsman.

In 1964 Tim went to Dauntsey’s School in Wiltshire, a minor public school on the northern edge of Salisbury Plain.  To the young Tim science was (and remained) largely a closed book and games held little appeal.  But the arts were a different matter altogether: history, literature (especially poetry), music and fine art were interests which began then and were pursued with enthusiasm and knowledge all his life.  Among his teachers was an inspirational History master, Howard Allen (Selwyn 1957), who was largely responsible for Tim and two others in his year going on to Cambridge to read the subject.

In the late 1960s the family had moved to Cambridge, living on the Huntingdon Road, so Tim was already familiar with the place, especially Kettle’s Yard and the bookshops.  Why Trinity Hall?  Jonathan Steinberg, Director of Studies in History at the time, was a family friend and may well have discerned Tim’s potential.  Tim did not altogether repay in the preferred currency.  His formal academic achievement was modest and his university life not overly constrained by anything as mundane as the syllabus.  Rather, he displayed an insouciance which even then appeared more suited to a bygone era.  However, he certainly added much to an already considerable stock of knowledge and experience.  He could be said to have grasped more than most what a university education could and should be.

After going down in 1975 there was a period teaching English in Spain.  On his return Tim enrolled as a law student in an act of filial submission.  He could not have been more unsuited and wisely the venture was abandoned before articles were embarked upon, not least because preparation for the Tort exam paper was a matter of spending the previous evening listening to Edith Piaf records.   Things then took a turn for the better.  In 1979 he moved to Devon to join the publishing firm David & Charles at Newton Abbot.  Later he was a provincial journalist, something which played well to his sociable nature and writing ability.  There was even a modest foray into authorship with From Haldon to Mid-Dartmoor in Old Photographs (1990).  He was to live in the same part of Devon for the remaining 45 years of his life, developing a deep affection for its countryside and its small communities.  But he did not immure himself in the West Country.  Links with Cambridge were retained.  There was a spell with Cassell in London and another publisher in Northampton.  Friends and family throughout the country were frequently visited.  There were holidays further afield, especially in retirement.  Ireland, the land of W B Yeats and James Joyce, exercised a lasting fascination.

Tim leaves a widow, Julia, and sons Nick and Jonathan (Joffy) by his first marriage.  And there are many friends who grieve his passing, for he had a quite remarkable gift for friendship.